Category Archives: Education News

Education Industry News from Tony Phillips

How to make writing easier with the Dictate tool in Microsoft 

Microsoft’s Dictate tool is great for those who struggle to get their ideas down onto paper – it allows you to speak into your microphone and convert your speech to text on the screen.  

Dictation is available on all Microsoft tools that use text. It’s an excellent feature for both students and teachers, helping you get ideas out of your head and onto the page quickly, without the distraction of spelling and grammar.  

Simply hit the Dictate button, start talking, and your ideas will flow onto the page. Then, if you need to, go back and edit the document later.  


How to use Dictate in Microsoft: 

  1. Open any Microsoft Office application. We’re using Microsoft Word in this example.  
  2. Select Dictate from the top Home ribbon. A notification appears, letting you know that it’s listening.  
  3. Start speaking! Your words will appear on the screen.  

A GIF demonstrating how you can use Dictate in Microsoft if you struggle to get your ideas down onto the page

Tip: Microsoft not only dictates your voice but also listens to your instructions too. For example, if you say, “New line”, “New paragraph” or “Full stop”, it listens and adds your directions to the text too.  

4. When you’ve finished, hit Dictate again to prevent Microsoft from continuing to dictate your speech.  

Note: You may need to give Microsoft permission to use your microphone the first time you start using this tool.

A GIF demonstrating how you can quickly convert speech to text with Microsoft's Dictate tool

Why we think Microsoft’s Dictate is great:  

  • It’s great if you find spelling tricky and can help with spelling words you struggle with. 
  • A blank page is daunting – Dictate can help you quickly get all of your ideas out of your head and onto the page.  
  • It saves time – great if you type slowly and spend lots of time correcting typos.  
  • It’s a quick solution to typing up handwritten notes.  

If you enjoy using the Dictate, you should try the Read Aloud tool in Immersive Reader, which allows you to listen back to what you’ve written.  

Here’s a podcast episode we recorded with Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire about how they use features like Immersive Reader to support students with Special Education Needs (SEN) and English as an Additional Language (EAL).

Found this helpful? Share this guide with your colleagues and students.

Summer Training Series: Free Microsoft training sessions for schools and trusts

Cloud Design Box is hosting two free webinars for schools and multi academy trusts as part of a Microsoft 365 summer training series.  

The virtual sessions take place in August and are completely free for teachers and senior leadership teams to attend.

Keith and Team

CDB Trainer Keith (right) and the rest of the CDB Team at the Bett Show

Setting group assignments in Microsoft Teams –  09/08/2022, 3-4pm

The first session focuses on setting group assignments in Microsoft Teams and is hosted by Keith, who has over 17 years of experience training IT systems across the UK and abroad.  

During the webinar, teachers will see the new group assignments feature in Teams and learn how to allow students to collaborate to submit one assignment as one group. Additionally, the session covers how teachers can provide feedback and grades to either each student or give an overall grade for the group.

CDB - Setting group assignments in Microsoft Teams

Setting up your Class Notebook for the new academic year – 18/08/2022, 10-11am

The second session covers Setting up your Class Notebook for the new academic year.  

“As the new academic year approaches, we wanted to show teachers how they can save time and improve the quality of their class notebooks by following some good practices,” says Joe, a Cloud Design Box trainer with a background in supporting SEND students in secondary and higher education. 

Joe, Cloud Design Box Trainer

Joe, Cloud Design Box Trainer

The session will show you how to set up your new class notebook and how to use some of its unique features to prepare for the new academic year.  

CDB - Setting up your Class Notebook for the new academic year

“Our summer training series is just another part of our ‘sharing is caring’ ethos,” explains Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box.

“We love sharing resources, tips and knowledge with schools and teachers so they can harness the full potential of Microsoft for Education.”  

Head to our events page to sign up for our free summer training series.

New to Teams: View assignment history and hand in student work in Teams  

The ability to hand in work on behalf of students in Microsoft Teams Assignments has been long-awaited by teachers, alongside being able to view assignment history of individual students. 

In this guide, we show you how to view assignment history and submit student work as a teacher in Teams Assignments.

How to view assignment history in Microsoft Teams Assignments. 

Viewing assignment history is particularly useful as it helps you as a teacher get an overview of where the student is with the assignment – whether they’ve viewed the work, if they’ve attempted to complete it or if they need more guidance.  

It also cuts out the excuse of “not knowing about the homework”, because you can now see if they really viewed the task or not.  

  1. Go into one of your assignments in Teams and view the list of students who have been set this work. 
  2. Select a student to open up their assignment. 
  3. In the left-hand side marking panel, select View History. This brings up an overview of where the student is with the assignment.

View assignment history in Teams

In this example, we can see that we set the work on 11/05/2022 at 14:11 and Susan viewed it around 20 minutes later.  

View assignment history in Teams example - viewed

Here’s what it looks like when the student has handed in their work. 

View assignment history in Teams example - handed in


How to hand in work on behalf of a student in Microsoft Teams Assignments. 

A much-anticipated feature in Teams is the ability for teachers to take actions on behalf of students – for example, upload files and turn in work for students. 

  1. Go into one of your assignments in Teams and view the list of students who have been set this work. 
  2. Select a student to open up their assignment. 
  3. Select Take action in student view in the left-hand side marking panel.  
  4. From here, you can attach files and select Hand in to hand in their assignment on their behalf.  
  5. The student and teacher have the option to Undo hand-in.  

Turn in assignments on behalf of students

Note: The assignment history will tell you whether the assignment has been turned in by the student or the teacher. 

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help extend Microsoft 365 in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.

How to access subject resources in CDB Class Teams | Student Guide

When working in Microsoft Teams, each Class Team that you’re a member of contains a tab where important subject resources can be viewed.

Access a resource library for your class by selecting the tab at the top of your Class Team.

In this example, it’s a Year 11 English student accessing their Year 11 English subject library.  

Click the resource tab in your Class Team to access resources

This is where your teachers store all of the resources for that topic.  

This folder is read-only to students, so you cannot edit the resources, but you may download your own copy if you wish to make annotations. 

Often, a teacher will assign this work to you and you can edit the file and return it to them for marking.  

You can also open up resource libraries in SharePoint by selecting Open in SharePoint. This takes you to the same folder in your school intranet.

student resources

You can view all subject site resources at any time from the school megamenu. 

View all your subjects in your school's megamenu

These libraries remain available to you every year, so you can access old topics as you move up through the years in your school.  

Resource libraries for that class.If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help extend Microsoft 365 in your school or MAT, book a free demo today. 

Add our helpful teaching and learning guides to your SharePoint site with the CDB Blog Posts Web Part

In this guide, we show you how to add the Cloud Design Box Blog Posts Web Part to display our helpful guides and resources on your SharePoint sites.  

The CDB Blog Posts Web Part automatically pulls in our latest blogs, guides, podcasts, videos and resources to your school or trust’s SharePoint site. 

An example of the CDB Blog Posts Web Part on SharePoint

It would sit perfectly on an IT help site as we regularly post “How to” guides and walkthroughs for Microsoft 365 in Education. 

Alternatively, if you want to see how other schools and MATs are using Cloud Box, you can pull in our latest podcast interviews to your SLT team site.  

Another idea is pulling in all our student and parent guides to parent/guardian area to onboard parents to Microsoft 365 and tell them about the latest features supporting their child’s learning.  

Below is how you can add and configure the CDB Blog Posts Web Part to your SharePoint sites:

How to add the CDB Blog Posts Web Part to a SharePoint site. 

  1. Head to the site you wish to add it to and hit Edit in the top-right corner of the screen.  
  2. Decide where you want your blog and news articles to appear on the site and hit the plus button to add a new web part. 
  3. Search for “CDB Blog” and Cloud Design Box customers should be able to see our CDB Blog Posts Web Part.  

Search for CDB Blog to find the CDB Blog Posts Web Part

Note: You can add this web part to any section of your SharePoint site.  

4. Select Republish to add this to the page and it’ll pull in all the latest blog posts and guides from Cloud Design Box. 

Filter blogs and news to suit you. 

You can also filter what news you see so that the content is always relevant to your audience.  

  1. Select Edit Web Part. 
  2. Open the drop-down menu under Filter by category to choose which category of blog posts you want to display on your site.  

For example, Business News, Education News, Office 365, Podcasts, Teacher guides or Student and Parent guides.  

So, if you wanted to create a SharePoint site for parents, you can add the CDB Blog Posts Web Part and pull in all the student and parent guides to help guide them on Microsoft 365.  

Filter the blog posts on the CDB Blog Posts web part

Change the title of your blog posts web part.  

  1. Select Edit Web Part. 
  2. Under the web part title, you can edit the name of the web part. For example, “Parent guides” or “Podcasts”. 
  3. You can also choose to hide the title, description and date.  

Choose how many blog posts to display.  

You may wish to alter how many blog posts display on your SharePoint site. The default is 12 but this may not be your preferred option. 

  1. Select Edit Web Part.  
  2. Under Number of blog posts to display use the slider to increase and decrease the number of blogs you wish to pull through to your SharePoint site.  

The CDB Blog Posts Web Part for SharePoint is only available to Cloud Design Box customers. If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today. 



How to add a Reflect check-in poll to your Class Notebooks

Reflect check-ins in Class Notebook are a brilliant way for teachers to get a good understanding of which students may need additional support or guidance. 

Meanwhile, reflecting on learning is good practice for students to build self-awareness and take ownership of their own education.  

In this guide, we show you how to insert a Reflect check-in into Class Notebook, how students can use the Reflect tool and how teachers can view student responses.  

How to insert a Reflect check-in into Class Notebook. 

  1. Open the page in Class Notebook you wish to insert your Reflect check-in.  
  2. Select Class Notebook on the top navigation bar.  
  3. Select Reflect to bring up a window where you can configure your Reflect check-in.

How to insert a Reflect check-in into Class Notebook

4. Choose what you would like your students to reflect on. For example, “confidence to succeed”, “satisfaction with their progress”, “motivation to learn” or “understanding of the content”.  

5. Type in a check-in question (or use the default question).  

6. Select Add check-in to page.  

How to insert a Reflect check-in into Class Notebook.

How students can use Reflect check-ins in Class Notebook. 

When a teacher has inserted a Reflect check-in to a Class Notebook page, it should look something similar to this: 

  1. Use emojis to answer the question. You can hover over each emoji to see what they mean. 
  2. Select Submit. 

Reflect Check-in GIF

Note: Only the teacher(s) for this class see responses.  

How teachers can view responses for Reflect check-ins. 

There are two main ways teachers can view student responses for Reflect check-ins.  

View Reflect check-ins via Class Notebook. 

  1. Go back into the Class Notebook page where you originally placed the Reflect check-in. 
  2. Select Check-in details – or any of the emojis – to see a breakdown of student responses. 

Check Reflect check-in responses

3. Select any student’s name to view their previous reflections and compare them.

Handy tip: You can click the student’s name to start up a Teams conversation with them if need be.  

View Reflect check-ins via Insights.  

  1. Open Insights and select Reflect. 
  2. Select In Class Notebook to view the Reflect check-in responses from Class Notebook. 

You’ll be able to see all the reflections in a list and click specific questions to narrow down your data.

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.  

Getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education with Jonathan Bishop from The Cornerstone Academy Trust

In this podcast episode, we speak with Jonathan Bishop, the CEO and Executive Headteacher of The Cornerstone Academy Trust (TCAT), about getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education.

TCAT is based in the southeast of England and comprises four primary schools. Their motto “Fortune Favours the Brave” is undoubtedly reflected in their forward-thinking approach to IT and technology, as Jonathan explains in this podcast episode.   

“We run our academy trust like one school with four campuses. We use technology to bring our four schools together and pool our money and resources to do everything centrally,” Jonathan tells us. 

TCAT has spent the last few years rolling out one-to-one devices to each student in their trust and working with Cloud Design Box and other partners to move all their infrastructure to the cloud: 

“We had a clear vision to have one device per student, with a cloud-based learning platform that allows flexibility and enables a teaching and learning strategy built around blended learning,” Jonathan describes. 

Because of their success with technology, they have been involved in several Department for Education programmes, working with schools regionally and nationally on a number of projects.  

The EdTech Demonstrator programme is one example – this is where TCAT works with schools and trusts across the UK to deploy networks and devices, set up learning platforms and help with ed tech strategies.  

On top of this, all four schools within the trust are Microsoft Showcase Schools, English Hubs and run the Science Learning Partnership. 

“This allows us to have a big outreach and work collaboratively in partnership with other schools on school improvement projects.”  

How do you get the best value from technology in education? 

“Getting the best value out of technology is not about getting the cheapest option. It’s about looking at what outcomes you want to achieve and choosing the solution that will deliver those outcomes best,” Jonathan explains.  

“The danger with going for the cheapest option to get ‘the best value for money’ is that if it doesn’t change the outcomes for the children and doesn’t have any impact, then it’s not value for money, is it?” 

When looking at your ed tech strategy, Jonathan explains that you must first look at your infrastructure.  

“You could spend lots of money on devices but have utterly frustrated students and staff because they don’t work due to slow internet speeds or short battery life,” he adds. 

“Device selection is so important, and changes depending on your desired outcomes. For example, when we built our TV studio, we wanted a place to create media content for the curriculum, do staff CPD and bring our schools together for assemblies and conferences. So we needed high-end machines, hardwired with good broadband. However, when we looked at one-to-one devices for our students, we wanted mobility and long battery life.”  

Investing in IT to enable specialist learning. 

This approach to ed tech strategy has enabled TCAT to work in new and flexible ways, transforming how they deliver the curriculum. 

One example is the ability to get the most value out of specialist teachers. 

By investing in noise-cancelling wireless headsets and mics, the trusts can now deliver specialist learning (like languages and coding) to hundreds more students at a time. 

“Before, we would have 30 children in a classroom with one teacher and maybe a teaching assistant. Now, we have 250+ children in one lesson – they could even be across different year groups – being supported by specialists in that subject.” 

“What you’ve got is value for money because while I’ve invested in the headset, the digital pen and the tablet, I’ve got lots more children getting a better-quality education, delivered by a specialist.”  

Jonathan Bishop shows the noise cancelling headsets he invested in for TCAT.

Your ed tech strategy isn’t optional – trusts cannot afford not to invest in IT.  

Jonathan is a firm believer that if schools and trusts aren’t investing in ed tech, then they are denying students vital opportunities and skills: 

“Too many people think ‘we have no money, so we can’t achieve this, and therefore we’re not going to do it’. But, you’ve got to think differently. Getting the right devices and technology in the right hands of students and teachers brings MAT-wide efficiencies – it’s not an option,” he continues. 

“We’re in the business of education, and I’m a teacher. And whilst I might oversee these four schools in this role, I want to get as we all do the very best for children, the very best experiences, opportunities and outcomes for children.” 

Catch up on all the episodes of our podcast on YouTube, Spotify or on our website.

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.  

How to get a notification every time a student submits a late assignment

The late turn in notification in Microsoft Teams Assignments allows you to be alerted if a student hands in their homework late.

The notification appears in the bottom corner of your screen, as well as the activity bell in the top-left of your Microsoft Teams.

This can be activated per assignment, or for all assignments in your class. It’s a handy feature that enables you to quickly identify if your students have submitted their assignments on time.

Turn on the late turn in notification for one assignment. 

  1. In Class Notebook, select Assignment. 
  2. Create your assignment as you would usually – fill in the information and set a deadline etc.  
  3. Under Settings, there’s an option to Receive notifications for late turn ins. Select Yes. 
  4. Select Assign to send out the assignment. Your late turn in notification is activated for this assignment.  


Turning on late turn in notification announcment for one assignment

Turn on the late turn in notification for all assignments. 

There’s also a way to set up a late turn in notification for all your assignments in a class.  

  1. Go into your Assignments in Class Teams. 
  2. Select Settings in the top right corner.
  3. Under Notifications, there’s an option to Receive notifications for late turn ins. Select Yes. 

From now on, notifications for late submissions will be turned on for all your assignments.  

Note: This only applies to your selected class. To activate the notifications for another class, you need to repeat this process in the Class Notebook Assignment tab for your other classes. 

 If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help extend Microsoft 365 in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.