Transform Student Engagement with Digital Ink

Guest post by Courtney Farrow with video by Tony Phillips

With 98% of classrooms now using computers, laptops and tablets, it’s safe to say that digital learning is here to stay.

However, many teachers still find themselves chained to their desktop computers, whiteboards and paper notebooks, unable to invest time and energy into making lessons more engaging, diverse and dynamic.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, Digital Ink in Microsoft’s Class Notebook could transform the way you teach.

Combining the traditional hand-written word with the power of digital technology, Digital Ink has improved the quality of the curriculum for 90% of teachers who have used it.

On top of this, schools say that Digital Ink saves time, increases engagement and class management, creates more personalised learning environments where students can get authentic, timely feedback from their teachers.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at some of the proven benefits of Digital Ink in the classroom.

Save time.

One of the main advantages of Digital Ink is that it saves time, which will probably be music to every teacher’s ears.

In fact, 67% of teachers who used the product said that it saved them precious time when preparing lessons, allowing them to access pre-prepared resources quickly, without having to redraw or re-write everything the class needs to see on a whiteboard.

One teacher explained:
“When I taught geometry and got to the question that nobody in the class understood, I had to stop the lesson and draw on the whiteboard. It took five minutes, and then I had to add labels. Only after all this, could I finally start talking about how to solve it.”

With Digital Ink, any lesson resources can be prepared in advance and reused over and over again, without having to erase and recreate it the next time you cover the topic.

Meanwhile, half of teachers have found that it saves time marking and grading pupils’ work. There will be more detail on student feedback with Digital Ink later in this blog post.

Improve the quality of lessons by unchaining the teacher from their desk

Most teachers who have used Digital Ink have said that it allows them to be anywhere in the classroom – without being tied to the front desk – enabling them to manage the class and engage the students in the work that’s appearing on the smartboard.

Thanks to the connectivity between student and teacher devices, children can be interacting with what is being displayed on the smartboard within seconds.

A more personalised learning environment.

Real-time collaboration between students and their teachers allows learning to continue outside of the classroom.

Around 50% of teachers have said that the technology increases the quality of communications with students.

Authentic and timely student feedback

Because of increased communication in and outside of the classroom, digital ink has transformed the way teachers give feedback to pupils.

You can quickly and easily annotate a piece of work, feeding back to students instantly and supporting them when they need it, rather than days after they need it.

As with all Microsoft Office 365 products, everything is saved automatically and in one place. One key benefit several teachers have pointed out is that Digital Ink lets teachers give feedback during the school day, or even during the actual lesson, rather than waiting until they get home.

In the video below, Cloud Design Box Founder Tony Phillips walks you through some critical uses of Digital Ink in the classroom, including student feedback and annotations, ink-to-text capability and solutions and steps for Math equations.



*All statistics and research mentioned in this blog post was taken from Digital Ink in the Classroom – Authentic, Efficient Student Engagement, an IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Microsoft. IDC conducted a research study with 685 teachers who are using computers in the classroom to understand their classroom technology usage, and specifically how they are using Digital Inking devices.

Resources:

onenote.com/ink
digital ink in the classroom authentic efficient student engagement
White Paper: Power Digital Inking Classroom

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast: Unlock Classroom Collaboration Potential with Files in Teams and SharePoint

Conversations and instant messaging are only one part of Microsoft Class Teams. Its true power shines through when teachers share their resources with their classes through the File Sharing tabs and SharePoint integration.

Students can immediately access files and resources that their teachers upload and continue learning outside of the classroom.

However, many teachers spend hours uploading and moving files in specific Class Teams. Sound familiar?

Luckily, there’s a much more effective way of managing class resources in Office 365.

Instead of storing your main resources in separate Class Teams, we recommend making use of SharePoint by having a central hub for all of your long-term resources – i.e. the ones your pupils will need over and over again, right the way through the school year.

Not only is this faster for you to manage, but by creating a central SharePoint resource library for each subject, you remove the need to duplicate work while allowing teachers and heads of departments to collaborate when creating valuable learning resources.

“Resources quickly become siloed if you only upload them to individual classes,” Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant says.

Darren is a former teacher of Modern Languages and ICT and is a passionate advocate of blended learning. He has also worked with schools, leading several large-scale learning platform projects for local authorities and for Building Schools for the Future.

“I’ve seen the collaboration and sharing of resources work very well across departments, and even across different schools inside of one multi-academy trust.”

Once this central hub is set up, you no longer have to worry about attaching individual files and folders to individuals Class Teams.

Simply select + to add a tab and then add your SharePoint resource library to the Class Team.



Now, we’re not telling you to avoid sharing anything directly in Class Teams.

Of course, if you have a one-off resource to share with your class on a specific topic, sharing only in Teams instead of SharePoint first makes a lot of sense.

However, creating a central library for your main resources and then adding them to Teams is a much faster, straightforward way of file sharing with your classes.

Office 365 User Adoption: Conversations in the Classroom with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a great collaboration tool and can be used to extend the classroom. In our latest podcast, Tony and Darren from Cloud Design Box discuss the real benefits of using Microsoft Teams in the classroom. This time we are focusing on the conversation aspect.

Communication is central to good lessons and learning in the classroom. That could be teacher to student, or it could be students working together in the class. Teams allows this communication to happen anywhere by extending the classroom.



The Invisible Child

In every class there are students who are shy or lack confidence to answer questions in the classroom. Although they may know the answer, they never raise their hand in class – so their classmates may never know the understanding and passion that person has for a topic. Other students simply prefer to draft and research an answer a little bit before they share it.

Microsoft Teams conversations gives these students a voice and helps the classroom become more inclusive. The same students who didn’t have the confidence to speak in front of the class can contribute to discussions via a digital platform.

Threads in Conversations

Controlling Conversations

Having class Teams with open conversations can be a concern for teachers. There are ways to control this which we will look at next but it’s worth remembering that everything is audited in Office 365 including conversations so this is a much safer place for students to engage than outside of the school on social media and other platforms.

If you are not ready to use Teams conversations with your class or want them to use it at limited times (such as in lessons), then you can mute individuals or the whole class using the mute settings.

muting students in Microsoft Teams

In the next user adoption podcast, we will look at the other aspects of Teams including files, Class Notebook, assignments and SharePoint integration.

Teams for Education summer 2019 updates

Microsoft Teams has had a makeover with some new UI and feature changes this summer. In the video below, we go through these changes and what it means for teachers and students using Teams in the classroom.



Tiles

A new tiled interface helps you to visualise your classes in a more friendly view. Don’t worry if you like the list view, you can always switch back to it at any time.

Teams Tiles

Moving Class Notebook Content

You can now take your Class Notebook content library and teacher only sections with you. When creating your new Class Notebook, you will have the option to import from previous Class Notebooks.

Class Notebook

Assignments Interface

Assignments are easier to view with the new grouped view. Late assignments are marked red.

Assignments

There are more updates coming soon too. You can check these out on the Teams Education blog.

End of Year Rollover Process in Microsoft School Data Sync

Lots of new and exciting features are coming to Microsoft Teams this summer, so get ready for the new academic year in advance and resolve any issues before the students are back.

I’m beginning the process of rolling over the academic year at many schools this month using Microsoft School Data Sync with the Cloud Design Box team. We have come across a few issues along the way. For the administrators out there trying to complete this process on their own, we thought it would be great to share our experience in the form of this video guide taking you through the process.



Before you begin the process, talk to SLT and teachers about the preferred clean-up options.

Expire All Classes

Adds a prefix to the start of the class name in this format: EXPMMYY. If you already prefix your classes with the academic year then there isn’t any reason to run this option.

Archive All Classes (recommended)

Archive makes the Team read-only. Teachers can restore a Team for a class and it will work as it did before. We recommend selecting this option so that teachers don’t have a long list of classes in the new academic year. If you have a course which lasts for two years, teachers can restore the class from the previous year and continue to use it; but it will no longer be updated with live MIS data.

Remove Students from All Classes

This removes students from class notebooks and all student data from assignments. This is non-reversible and therefore we do not recommend this choice.

A few issues to be aware of (which we cover in the video above):

  • Some classes will fail to clean-up – you will have to do these manually.
  • You may need to refresh the profile page if you get stuck on an error when starting the new term.
  • Occasionally a clean-up process may get stuck processing forever. If it lasts longer than 24 hours, log a support call with the Microsoft Education team.

We hope this video helps you out. Please feel free to share your comments, wins and frustrations with the process in the comments below!

Adding Announcements in Microsoft Teams for Education

In this video, I explore the new announcement feature in Microsoft Teams. It’s part of a big education release this summer, we will keep you posted on the latest developments!



Importing and Exporting Rubrics in Microsoft Teams

Read more about how to setup and use rubrics in Microsoft Teams in our previous post.

There are options available in Microsoft Teams to export and import Rubric grading criteria. This is great news for educators, it will empower them to share rubrics with their department, school, trust or the rest of the world!



Exporting a Rubric

Find an assignment that you used with the rubric attached. Select the assignment and open the rubric.

Rubric on Microsoft Teams Assignment

Select the download as CSV option. This will download your rubric in a CSV formatted spreadsheet.

Exporting a Rubric in Microsoft Teams

It might not seem much use in this format but follow the steps below to import it. Ideally the next steps should be followed by someone who doesn’t already have access to this rubric.

Importing a Rubric

Create a new assignment, add a rubric and select the import option.

Importing a Rubric in Microsoft Teams

Find the CSV and import it. Not only is the rubric available for use in this assignment, it will now appear in your rubric list for all future assignments that you set!

Creating Assignments using Class Notebook Pages

Class Notebook has a really nice feature which allows teachers to distribute pages to student sections so that they can work on their own copy of the page. Since we originally looked at this in a previous blog post, Microsoft Teams now supports setting assignments using Class Notebook pages too.

Essentially there are two ways to do the same thing, so which should you choose? We would recommend only using Class Notebook to distribute pages if the work is informal (like class work) and we would recommend setting the assignment through Teams if it’s going to be marked (homework, assignments, etc).

The reason for this is you can collect formal marks and comments in the assignment app that you just can’t do through Class Notebook.



To set an assignment using a Class Notebook page:

Create a new assignment and add the Class Notebook page as a resource. Students will be able to have their own copy of the page that you select.

Class Notebook in Teams Assignments

Select a section to push the page into when the student completes it.

Class Notebook Section to distribute

Complete the rest of the assignment form and publish it.

When reviewing student work, you will have the option to annotate the Class Notebook page in addition to adding formal feedback and scores. This gives you the best of both worlds. Simple annotation and feedback on the student work but also a place for formal marks and comments which will become part of an exportable marksheet.

View student work in Class Notebook and teams

Office 365 User Adoption: Focus on a Long-Term Plan

You know how much Office 365 could transform your school or academy, but how do you convince the rest of the staff and student body?

Getting everyone on board with a new concept or piece of software is a challenge for all organisations, but by sharing experiences, we can learn from others who have been in our shoes.

That’s why we have created this podcast series, highlighting real-life user adoption stores for SharePoint and Office 365 for Education.

In this episode, we speak to Duncan Thurlow, a Science Teacher and Whole School IT Coordinator at Whitley Bay High School in North Tyneside.



Cloud Design Box Founder Tony Phillips and Darren Hemming, our Operations Manager, find out more about some of the methods Whitley Bay has used to encourage staff and students to embrace the cloud-based service.

“When you introduce anything new, there are always hurdles,” Duncan tells us. “It’s a case of upskilling across the whole school; teachers, admin staff and the pupils.”

Duncan describes how on the first day of the new year, staff attended a training session that outlined some of the basics of Office 365 and SharePoint.

“From day one, we set it as the standard home page, so everyone would hit it on a daily basis. It’s about getting people into the habit of storing documents in the cloud and using the quick links that Cloud Design Box set for the landing page.”


Cloud Design Box

This was followed by a series of drop-in sessions and then a recap workshop in January, where staff could ask questions and explore some of the features in more depth.

“We were careful to set out a strict structure for certain things, such as file storage. For example, we disabled saving to USB sticks in some areas in order to promote the cloud. However, we also gave our staff the freedom to choose how they used it within their specific departments,” Duncan points out.

‘All different, but all equal’ is at the heart of the Whitley Bay ethos:
“It runs throughout our school, from staff to students.”

Duncan believes the key is to discover the hook for each department, whether it’s accessing shared resources outside of school hours for teaching staff, collecting responses quickly on Microsoft Forms for admin staff, or sending out bulletin alerts for the pastoral team.

“Forcing people to move their entire workflow to the cloud only causes frustration, annoyance and – ultimately – resentment. We don’t want that. We want people to use these tools to enhance the learning for our pupils,” he adds.

A long-term approach has been crucial for user adoption at Whitley Bay.

“There has to be a strong sense of commitment with anything you introduce into a school. Be consistent and think about the bigger picture.” Duncan continues.

“Concentrate on one or two things you’d like to achieve in the first twelve months. For us, this was access from home and file collaboration. A slow and steady transition to this feature-rich product receives a much more positive response compared to a rushed, forced move to the cloud.”

If you want to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can help you implement a digital strategy to move to the cloud, visit our website: https://www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/education