Author Archives: Tony Phillips

What is Microsoft Viva Connections? – Integrating a SharePoint intranet with Teams

Microsoft Viva Connections is a great way to communicate and publish information to users in Microsoft Teams. If you are already familiar with SharePoint, then the simple way of describing Viva Connections is “A SharePoint Intranet inside a Microsoft Teams App”. It means that users can access company news, policies, and other published information without having to leave Teams.

Viva connections - SharePoint in Teams App

During the pandemic, Teams has been an important communication tool for organisations. Users can chat and collaborate as they work in the office or from home. However, to access published organisation information such as news, policies, human resources, etc, users would have to open a browser and go to the organisation intranet. Viva connections brings all of this inside the Teams app to help streamline the organisation’s working practice.

How to setup Viva Connections.

In this video, we show you what Viva Connections looks like and how to set it up. Please note that Viva Connections requires a SharePoint intranet before setting up. If you need help with SharePoint or Teams, get in touch with one of our experts.



Access the Microsoft guide here.

If you would like to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can help you get more out of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, contact one of our experts today.


Cloud Design Box

Wilberforce Sixth Form College Awarded Microsoft Showcase College Status (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 14)

Cloud Design Box has been working with Wilberforce College, a further education Sixth Form College in Hull, to support them in moving to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, through training and strategy sessions, as well as software set up and implementation.

Assistant Principal at Wilberforce College Jonathan Butler recently joined us on a webinar to discuss best practices in Microsoft Teams and how working with Cloud Design Box has helped the school achieve their goals with cloud-based learning.




Listen on Spotify

“If you’re thinking about moving over to Teams, you must think about how you’re going to share and store files – it should be your priority. If you don’t have a backend storage system – like SharePoint – linked with Teams, things can become a little bit messy, especially when you enter a new school year,” Jonathan explains.

“Cloud Design Box has helped us to set up Teams and SharePoint in a way that will serve us year after year, with long-term resources that can be reused for each new class you teach.”

The College was crowned a DfE EdTech Demonstrator School and are now part of the network of schools and colleges who have shown they can use technology effectively and have the capacity to help other education organisations do the same.

“We had a head start in moving across to Teams and SharePoint thanks to the long-term strategy and technology rollout implemented by Tony and the rest of team.”

Wilberforce College has witnessed a massive increase in staff engagement and enthusiasm for Microsoft 365.

“After taking part in the informative training sessions with Lloyd at Cloud Design Box, our staff have been inspired to learn more and look deeper into how we can use Teams better in the school. Around 80% of our teaching staff took it upon themselves to seek further training from Microsoft,” Jonathan adds.

“The enthusiasm and uptake of the product sort of snowballed from there. We have now been awarded Microsoft Showcase College status and are the only sixth form in the UK to be awarded this accolade.”

CPD Training Graph

Throughout the pandemic, Teams and SharePoint has transformed the way teachers and school staff collaborate at Wilberforce:

“It’s great to see so many members of staff recording quick training videos and sharing them with colleagues. At the tap of a button, this valuable content can be shared to all staff, or specific groups. For example, we recently had a teacher share a video on immersive reader,” he tells us.

“Teachers are no longer working in isolation – they’re sharing their resources, skills and knowledge. Even when the pandemic is over, we must make sure this kind of collaboration continues.”

Here’s a video featuring the staff and students at Wilberforce College, talking about how Microsoft 365 has transformed learning.



Webinar: Safeguarding in Microsoft Class Teams with Senso Cloud

Cloud Design Box is partnering with Senso Cloud to deliver a free live workshop on Safeguarding in Microsoft Class Teams. Sign-up for free here.

Senso Cloud

Senso Cloud provides real-time monitoring of Teams chat using AI and we are working with them to help our customers safeguard online learning in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.

With the rapid increase of remote learning during the last year, teachers and school staff have raised concerns about monitoring activity within Class Teams, for example when students are working in breakout rooms and have the ability to chat via Teams.

“Senso has provided us with an excellent and ever-evolving safeguarding solution for some time now, enabling us to monitor effectively what pupils do on our devices, with the exponential increase in remote learning through Microsoft Teams,” says Alan Hughes of Holgate Primary School.

In this informative, interactive session, teachers and school staff will discover more about how we can help them safeguard their school and students while using Microsoft Teams to communicate, collaborate and learn.

Senso Cloud enables teachers to monitor Teams, including the Private Chat feature, to give schools confidence and improve student wellbeing.

“With Senso monitoring, we’re able to make full use of Teams, knowing that we can monitor Chat for safeguarding concerns. It’s easy to use and we’re aware of any incidents with students within a few seconds,” says James Durrant of Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College.

Teams Safeguarding with Senso Cloud takes place on Tuesday 23 March at 11am. Book your free place now.

How To Achieve More With Breakout Rooms In Microsoft Teams (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 13)

Breakout rooms in Microsoft Class Teams launched in January 2021, allowing teachers to create sub-meetings within the main class meeting for students to work together in small groups and discuss their learning.

In this discussion, we’ve included everything you need to know about breakout rooms in Teams, from how to set them up to safeguarding and saving time.




Listen on Spotify

How To Set Up Breakout Rooms In Class Teams

It’s straightforward to set up breakout rooms in Class Teams.

You can set up a breakout room once the meeting is open in the desktop app by selecting the breakout room button.

start teams breakout room

We have a step-by-step guide on setting up breakout rooms in Class Teams here.

The teacher can manually allocate each student to a specific breakout room or allow Teams to decide automatically. It’s entirely your choice – many teachers prefer to manually assign students, but it might be quicker to randomly assign everyone.

Once a breakout room is open, the students are placed into the room after 10 seconds. Breakout rooms can also be renamed.

How To Save Time Setting up Breakout Rooms in Class Teams

Currently, breakout rooms cannot be pre-planned and must be created while you’re in a Class Teams meeting. However, there are several ways to get around this.

The first is to open the meeting early and set out the rooms, then exit the meeting until you need to return, i.e. at the time of the class.

The second is to create recurring meetings for your lessons. Once you set up your breakout rooms in your first recurring meeting, it’ll save those rooms and reallocate the same students to the rooms for the next lesson.

reoccurring mreeting

How To Structure Breakout Rooms in Class Teams

The structure of your breakout rooms depends largely on how you teach your class. Here are some common examples:

  • Pairs or small groups.
  • Mixed ability groups.
  • Small groups with a teaching assistant.
  • Similar ability groups – i.e. red table, yellow table.

Think about how you structure your physical classroom and how you would group together students and apply this to the online classroom.

Ideas for Breakout Rooms in Class Teams.

Like with real-life group work in schools, breakout rooms are a great way to engage students in a different way that simply listening to the lesson and completing individual tasks.

Our Teaching and Learning consultant Darren Hemming was formerly a Modern Foreign Languages Teacher and has some ideas on how he’d use breakout rooms to enhance learning:

“One way is to set up a jigsaw activity, where each group takes a specific area or topic and completes questions or a task around that topic. Each group can then be brought back into the main Class Teams lesson to present to the rest of the class,” says Darren.

“There’s also the possibility of putting students into groups to complete individual work, but the breakout room is there as a co-working space. So the students can be working on their tasks, whether that’s completing a set of questions or doing some artwork, and if they get stuck, they can ask for peer support.”

Darren also points out that breakout rooms are a great way to reduce distractions on a students’ screen. If their screen is filled with 30 people, they may be less likely to contribute and also get distracted by their whole class staring virtually back at them.

Smaller groups mean fewer distractions and a less daunting environment to ask questions and contribute.

Safeguarding Students in Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

Safeguarding issues, inappropriate behaviour and cyberbullying are common concerns among teachers and staff who are dipping their toes into the world of breakout rooms.

“Firstly, you need to set expectations and communicate with both students and parents about what type of behaviour is acceptable during online learning,” Darren adds.

“Whether students are being taught online or in the classroom, safeguarding issues crop up. But there are some ways teachers can use the technology to closely monitor what’s happening within each room, as well as encourage them to stay on task.”

Teachers can hop in and out of the breakout rooms unannounced, and by doing this regularly, you can make sure students are staying on track.

Breakout rooms can also be recorded, which may help deter students from getting distracted or behaving inappropriately. To do this, teachers need to join the breakout room and hit record, but when they leave the breakout room, Teams will continue recording.

Another step to take in terms of safeguarding is updating your online learning policy to include Class Teams and breakout rooms.

“It’s all about being clear with your students that the expectations online are exactly the same as they would be on school premises,” says Darren.

Keeping Students On Task in Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

The methods mentioned above on safeguarding in breakout rooms can also be applied to keep students on task and steer them away from distractions and off-topic conversations.

A key way to keep students on task in breakout rooms is to keep the sessions short. By injecting a bit of urgency into the breakout rooms – i.e. only opening them for a few minutes at a time, you can make sure students are focusing on the task and not getting bored, going off-topic.

“It’s difficult to discipline students if they’re behaviour isn’t appropriate when teaching an online class. But you can always take them out of a breakout room (or the main Class Teams area) and into a breakout room with only you and talk to them about their behaviour,” Darren suggests.

“Of course, if the behaviour becomes an ongoing issue, you can then decide to take it further through the usual processes of your school, whether that would be to talk to their form tutor, head of house and eventually parents/guardians.”

Other Things To Remember About Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

Here are some additional tips you need to know about breakout rooms in Class Teams:

  • When a student enters a breakout room, their mic is unmuted and they have the ability to share their screen and present. But when they re-enter the main lesson, they are muted and can no longer present.
  • Recordings of individual breakout rooms are only shared with the specific participants, not everyone in the class. The teacher can access them, if needed, via OneDrive.
  • Reminders and time warning messages can be sent by the teacher to all breakout rooms to communicate with the class.

How To Manage Class Cover in Microsoft Teams with Cloud Design Box

Schools are currently facing additional challenges when managing class cover as a result of a teacher being absent due to sickness, needing to self-isolate or be re-deployed to teach key worker students.

Cloud Design Box has created a solution that allows schools to quickly and easily organise class cover, making sure the member of staff has temporary access to the right learning resources and Class Team within seconds.

Here’s how to get started with our Class Cover Manager tool:

Select a member of staff to temporarily assign them to a Class Team. This is usually a member of the leadership team or another user with permissions.

Select teacher and class to cover

The next step is to set a date for when the teacher needs to be removed from this Class Team. For example, if they are covering during a teacher’s 10-day isolation period.

Select a date for the cover to end

Selecting Save immediately gives access to the chosen member of staff to have access to that Class Team. This enables them to teach the class and access the correct learning resources until they are automatically removed from the Class Team on the chosen date.

The current class cover is displayed in the Existing Cover log.

Existing Cover

Previously, this could be achieved through the school MIS, however, with the current circumstances, we knew that schools needed a more flexible and accessible option.

Our Class Cover Manager is rolling out throughout February for our Silver, Gold and Platinum customers. If you’re one of these schools, you don’t need to do anything, the feature will appear in your portal shortly.


If you have any questions on how to manage class cover and achieve more with blended learning in Microsoft Teams, please contact a member of our team today.

Watch the class cover video guide below:



Free Events For Schools Wanting To Achieve More With Microsoft Teams

Cloud Design Box and SalamanderSoft have partnered up to design and deliver three free webinars tailored to schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts who are looking to make the most out of remote and blended learning with Microsoft Teams.

Throughout January and February, the training sessions are free to anyone who works at a school, college, academy or multi academy trust.

“We understand the pressure teachers have experienced during the last year, and with the new Covid-19 restrictions resulting in many schools juggling remote and in-classroom learning, it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed and struggle to find the time to adapt lesson plans and materials,” says Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box.

“Our sessions aim to show schools how to make the most of the digital tools available, avoid duplication of work, save time on admin and find more time to focus on their students.”

Below is an outline of each webinar:


Getting started with Microsoft Teams


Getting Started With Microsoft Teams – Thursday 28 January @ 10am

In this session, teachers can learn how best to use Teams to support home and blended learning with confidence, providing some actionable tips on how both staff and students can get started with Microsoft 365.


Planning Long Term User Adoption with Microsoft Teams


Planning Long Term User Adoption of Microsoft Teams in Schools and MATs – Thursday 28 January @ 3pm

When adopting any new technology, it’s crucial to bring everyone along on the journey with you – not just the tech-savvy members of staff.

Teams is no different. In this session, SalamanderSoft and the Cloud Design Box training team walk you through how to plan for long-term success with Teams, without leaving anyone behind.


Best Practices with Microsoft Teams


Best Practices with Microsoft Teams – Tuesday 2 February @ 10am

Specially-designed around overworked teachers who are struggling with Teams, this webinar demonstrates how you can eliminate additional work by collaborating on resources in a centralised location.

Department leaders learn how they can free up their staff’s time by using these tried-and-tested best practices.


Wilberforce College


Best Practices using Microsoft Teams with Wilberforce College – Wednesday 24 February @ 11am

Over the last year, Cloud Design Box has been working with schools and colleges across the country to support them with Covid-19 school closures and homeschooling through training and strategy sessions, as well as software set up and implementation.

One of these customers is Hull-based Wilberforce College:

“We realised that our students didn’t necessarily have access to lots of digital devices at home, and this was impacting on their ability to carry out independent work. We thought that by using one single platform where they could access all of their learning content on one app would be the best way forward. And that’s why we chose Teams and Cloud Design Box,” says Jonathan Butler, Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning) at Wilberforce College.

“We’ve been looking for something like Teams for a long time and it’s changed the game for us during lockdown,” says Ashley Howe, STEM Faculty Head at Wilberforce College.

Wilberforce College using Microsoft Teams

Thanks to Cloud Design Box’s product and training, Wilberforce College has become the only educational institution in Hull and the East Riding to be awarded status as an EdTech DfE Demonstrator College.

“Without the help of Cloud Design Box, we would have never been in the position to achieve this,” says Jonathan Butler.

Cloud Design Box’s training sessions, up until now, have been primarily exclusive to existing customers. However, we are now opening up free places to anyone who works in a school and wants to develop their understanding of Microsoft Teams and how it can be used to deliver learning in and outside of the classroom.

Partner company SalamanderSoft supports Cloud Design Box’s product with its own technology and is looking forward to sharing their knowledge with teachers and school staff:

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Cloud Design Box over the past few years, and we’re very happy to be able to offer these sessions alongside them, to help schools get the most from Microsoft Teams as easily as possible,” says Jon Atkinson, Managing Director of SalamanderSoft.

To find out more about Cloud Design Box’s latest free and virtual events, please head to www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/events.

Store Teams meeting recordings in SharePoint and OneDrive

Microsoft Teams meeting recordings are no longer in Microsoft Stream for many education licenses. This means it can be difficult to find or delete recordings at the current time.

Old meeting no longer stored in Stream

Microsoft are planning on moving all meeting recordings into OneDrive and SharePoint However, in the meantime recordings are stored in a temporary location (causing issues like deleting or keeping video files). This guide goes through how to enable SharePoint and OneDrive storage for Microsoft Teams meeting recordings early (switchover date for education tenants is 7th July 2021).



Where will new meeting records be stored?

Once enabled, any “Meet Now” recordings created in the Teams calendar will be saved into OneDrive of the person starting the meeting. Any recordings created in the Team channel (such as online lessons) will be stored in the files tab of the Team under a “Recordings” folder. More detailed examples can be found on the Microsoft site.

Recorded meetings folder

Configure OneDrive and SharePoint via PowerShell

Connect to Skype PowerShell using the code below.

Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession
Import-PSSession $sfbSession

If there are no policies applied to users, apply the setting to the “Global” policy.

Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -RecordingStorageMode "OneDriveForBusiness"

To check if there are any policies applied to individuals, open the Teams admin centre, and locate a typical staff user. Click “View Policies” to locate the name of the Meeting policy applied to the user.
Teams admin centre center

Run the command again but this time for the custom policy. In this example, the policy is called “AllTeachersMeetingPolicy”.

Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity AllTeachersMeetingPolicy -RecordingStorageMode "OneDriveForBusiness"

Sign out and then back in again (it may take a few hours to take effect)

Meeting recordings should now be stored inside OneDrive or SharePoint (Teams file tab).

Meeting recording stored in OneDrive or SharePoint in Teams
files tab storage

Add shortcut to OneDrive guide

SharePoint is a great place for a school or business to store shared resources. However, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different document locations. The new “Add shortcut to OneDrive” feature is a great way of keeping track of all the documents you use on a regular basis. Not only does it show the shared locations on the web, but it also maps to the OneDrive app for easy access on your windows 10 device.



Get started by finding your favourite SharePoint library.

SharePoint Library

Click the “Add shortcut to OneDrive” button. Simple!

How does it work?

Open OneDrive in the web. There is now a link to the SharePoint library (remember it is still shared and has not moved, it is just a link).
OneDrive on the web

It will have also synced to the desktop app so you can access all the SharePoint files as if it were a mapped drive on your local machine.

Desktop App

Any windows 10 device using this account will have the link to the SharePoint library, so you are ready to work anywhere on any device.

We found that this button saved so much time compared to syncing individual SharePoint libraries on each device we used.

How To Make Your SharePoint Sites Look Great

Creating a visually appealing SharePoint site is vital if you want people to engage with it regularly. But you don’t need to spend hours designing and curating your sites for them to look good.

We’ve created a video to show you that it’s possible to create a professional and captivating SharePoint site in under 20 minutes. By sticking to our top tips, you can make sure your organisation’s SharePoint sites look clean and well-designed while remaining practical and informative.



Get inspired by the SharePoint look book.

Microsoft has put together a free resource filled with inspiration for SharePoint sites, whether you need pages for news, announcements, resources or training.

The beauty of the look book is that if you see a site you like, you can add it to your SharePoint as a starting point.

SharePoint look book

Use high-quality images.

Inject life into your SharePoint site by using eye-catching imagery.

There are plenty of free and high-quality image resources out there, so you don’t necessarily need to spend money on bringing a photographer in to take team photos.

The SharePoint look book is a great place to download professional photos, and SharePoint itself has an image library filled with all types of pictures to suit your needs.

By filling your site engaging imagery, you’re already halfway there to making it look good.

SharePoint Design

Stick to a colour scheme.

Once you start playing with colour in SharePoint, you can truly make a site your own. Use your brand colours and stick to a simple colour palette of around 2-4 shades to keep everything looking consistent and professional.

You could go one step further and bear this colour scheme in mind when selecting images for the site.

Section variety.

When you have lots of content to showcase, important messages can easily get lost in the noise.

Make sure you break up your content into logical sections and ensure these sections look distinctive from each other.

Again, use colours to differentiate each section. As Tony shows in the video demonstration, you can make some areas pop with a brighter hue, followed by a simple muted tone for the next section.

Be sure to use different layouts for each section and mix it up with your column numbers and sizes.

SharePoint sections

Think about spacing.

Avoid cramming your pages full of content and instead separate out elements with spacers. A bonus tip to ensure your spacing is consistent throughout is to stick to a specific spacer size, for example, 20 pixels.

SharePoint spacing

Toggle Between Published and Edit Mode.

When editing a SharePoint site, it’s easy to get fixated on how it looks in Edit mode rather than what it will look like when finally published.

Switch between Published and Edit mode to give yourself a chance to step back and look at it through the eyes of your users.

Engaging content.

It’s all well and good creating an attractive SharePoint site, but you also need to ensure the content is relevant, engaging and adding value to your end-users if you want them to use the site consistently.

Think creatively and don’t be afraid to add some fun, light-hearted content in there.

As you can see from our demo video, Tony uses a Word of the Day web part and also a short message from the CEO. It’s about finding the balance between this type of content and your more serious stuff, like policies and company updates.

Engaging Content

Additionally, make sure your SharePoint site isn’t static is by adding the News web part that links in and pulls content from your company news pages so your readers will always have the latest articles and updates at their fingertips.

If you have any questions about creating SharePoint sites for your organisation, please get in touch with a member of our team right now.

Microsoft 365 User Adoption Episode 12: Saving Teacher Time With Class Notebook

Our Office 365 User Adoption Podcast highlights real-life stories from schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts on how they’ve successfully rolled out Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Teams to staff and students.

In this podcast episode, we spoke with Rachael Howarth, Vice Principal at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School and Business Studies teacher on how they’re using Microsoft 365 to support students’ learning and save teachers’ time, whether they’re working remotely or in the classroom.




Listen on Spotify

Bradford Girls’ Grammar School started using SharePoint in March and April 2020 when UK schools were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

“We started out using SharePoint, but from mid-May, we’ve been using Teams to improve the interaction between teachers and students,” explains Rachael.

“Since September, it has been a government requirement that anyone absent from school has immediate access to remote learning, so we adopted Class Notebook to achieve this in an efficient way.”

Rachael explains that the school decided it would be a lot easier if teachers planned lessons via Class Notebook so that they could use the resources in the classroom, as well as distributing them to students who were not in school, as well as another cover staff who required access to them.

“It’s been working really well. Students have access whenever they need to, and can go back and revise from these resources at a later date.”

An example of this in action is a Year 13 Business lesson Rachael shows us during the podcast.

Class Notebook

“Within this lesson, I have written down some instructions for students. If the lesson was recorded, I could link the video and there wouldn’t be a need for so many words here,” Rachael demonstrates.

“I have also added in links to YouTube videos and an audio recording of myself describing how this lesson fits into the rest of the A Level Business Studies course.”

Rachael explains how using links to videos is a great way to quickly share important learning resources without having to manually upload and embed resources multiple times. You can also do this with other files from your own OneNote, such as PowerPoint.

“We structure our files so that we have a centralised resource bank for each subject, then just reference or link to them in lessons rather than embedding and uploading those files for every single class. It saves a lot of time.”

The Grammar School has been making the most of centralised resources by allowing staff members to share and collaborate when creating learning materials.

“This has significantly reduced teacher workload. Our teachers have really appreciated being able to remotely co-author documents together and save time,” she continues.

“Centralising files in this way also allows department heads to check the quality and consistency of learning resources and – as an added bonus – we can instantly give our support and cover staff access to resources without manually having to send lesson plans and resources.”

Alongside Class Notebook, the school is also using Assignments.

“We keep our Assignments and Class Notebook separate so that students have an area to upload their classwork – any work that they complete during a lesson and therefore doesn’t have to be necessarily marked by a teacher. Meanwhile, they use Assignments for more formal, graded work,” Rachael shows us.

“Forms is also a really useful way to quickly quiz students and check their progress.”

As Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant, points out, having an online area where students can upload classwork enables the teacher to remotely walk around the classroom and look over students’ shoulders to check everyone is on track.

“Assignments has been a great way to instantly give digital feedback to students during Covid-19, without worrying about swapping pieces of paper back and forth between teachers and their classes.”

One challenge the school has faced during the pandemic is live teaching to students who are working from home.

saving teacher time with class notebook

“We’re located in a deprived area of the country and not all of our students have easy access to devices that they can work from. We’re lending students our spare devices and working with the government to provide as many tablets and laptops as possible, but the reality is some families still have to share one device between them,” Rachael tells us.

“Because of this, live teaching would not currently be possible if we had another school closure. Many students would be unable to attend timetabled classes and that’s why we’ve taken the approach of recording lessons and letting students access the videos and written materials at a time that suits them.”

During the beginning of lockdown, when some students only had mobile phones to work from, the school was able to work around this barrier by allowing students to take a photo of written work and upload it to Class Notebook.

“We’re now looking at setting up virtual drop-in sessions so students have access to their teacher on a regular basis to ask questions,” she points out.

“With the help of ongoing support and training, our students and staff have picked all of this up incredibly quickly. I’m looking forward to improving how we work and making it run even more smoothly.”

You can watch the full episode and the full podcast series on the Cloud Design Box YouTube channel. If you have any questions about adopting Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint in your school or organisation, get in touch with a member of our team right now.