Category Archives: Education News

Education Industry News from Tony Phillips

An Update From the Cloud Design Box Team on Covid-19

In light of the recent Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve put together a short article on the free resources we’ve been working hard to create and share with you.

Like many businesses, we’re now operating fully remotely and still available to support our existing clients, as well as any other schools, multi-academy trusts and businesses who need a helping hand during this difficult time.

Before the pandemic, part of our team already worked from home, so we have been privileged enough to be able to make the smooth transition to remote working.

We’re also very lucky in the sense that the tools we specialise in – Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and SharePoint – are built for collaboration and keeping people connected.

While we already used these tools in our day-to-day business, they have become even more invaluable in driving collaboration and allowing us to stay connected as a team. Here’s a screenshot of one of our recent Teams calls.

Cloud Design Box Meeting

As you may have seen if you follow us on social media, or have signed up to our newsletter, we have been publishing free resources to help you create virtual lessons, access remote learning and use Teams to stay connected with your class.

We’ve recently published a guide for teachers on presenting remote lessons using Teams.


blog post

On top of this, our Student and Parent Guide to Teams is a great one to share with your class if any families are struggling to get to grips with homeschooling.


another blog guide

And, as always, we’re keeping up with our regular podcast, which offers insights into all the tools Office 365 for Education offers. You can access all episodes via our YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, for the IT teams in schools, we have a blog on useful PowerShell Scripts for managing classes in Teams, as well as a free training Web Part and Teams tab package to guide you through using Teams, SharePoint and Office 365.

free web part and teams tab package

As you can imagine, we’ve been working with lots of schools to ensure their transition to remote teaching is as frictionless as possible. If you have been in touch with us recently, we really appreciate your patience when it comes to resolving issues and providing support. It’s an extremely busy time for us and we wish to continue to support you all in the best possible way.

If you do have any questions, or would like some guidance on using Office 365, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams for your school, multi-academy trust or business, please feel free to get in touch.

Teacher Guide to Presenting Remote Lessons using Microsoft Teams

In this video and guide we show you the best way to start an online lesson in Microsoft Teams. Follow the tips below if you want to control presenters and have more control over the video conference.



Tip 1 – Create your lesson in the calendar view

Creating your lesson in the calendar rather than directly from your class team channel gives you a number of benefits including:

  • Sends out an email invitation to all students
  • If students accept the invitation it will add it to their own personal outlook calendar providing structure to their day.
  • You can stop students from being presenters (and some of the disruption they could cause)

When creating the calendar invite, there is no need to add the students individually, you just need to select the class as shown below.

Schedule Lesson

Tip 2 – Stop students presenting

By default, students are also presenters which means they can share their screens and kick others out of the meeting. This may disrupt the lesson, but you can change this setting!

Save the calendar meeting and wait for it to finish setting up (it becomes bold in the calendar view).

lesson entry

Once you go back into the calendar item, you will see there are additional menu items for controlling the meeting options.

Meeting options

Select “Meeting options” and then change the presenter to “Only Me” and press “Save”.

Presenter options

Tip 3 – Mute microphones

The first 4 students who join the meeting will have their mics unmuted, use the “Mute all” button at any point during the lesson.

Mute all

Tip 4 – Share screens

Use the share button to share your screen or present an application or file.

Share screen

Tip 5 – Mention that the lesson is about to start

Mentioning the class will send them an instant notification in teams. Use it to notify them that the lesson is about to start.

Mention

Tip 6 – Record the lesson

Some students may not be able to make it to your lesson in time. Ensure no one misses out and that they can use it for revision purposes by recording the meeting.

record lesson meeting

We hope you find these tips useful. Good luck with your online lessons!

Student and Parent Guide to Microsoft Teams

We have made a quick video guide for students and parents about using Microsoft Teams from home during this time of remote learning. We hope you find it useful!



Useful PowerShell Scripts for Managing Classes in Microsoft Teams

So, you have school data sync setup and all of your class teams have been generated in Microsoft Teams. Teachers are eager to start using it for extending the classroom or remote learning. Teachers then realise that students can do things that they were not aware of and request for some rights to be restricted.

Here is a list of useful PowerShell scripts to help you manage some of the most common issues that schools face.

  • – Allow teachers to delete student messages
  • – Stop students emailing the class group
  • – Disable chat for students

Allow teachers to delete student messages

It’s surprising that this is not enabled as standard. Owners in class teams cannot delete member messages unless a custom message policy is set.

Create a messaging policy in the Teams Admin centre

Create a new messaging policy and select “Owners can delete sent messages”

Create custom message policy in Teams
Owners can delete messages
Apply Custom Message Policy using PowerShell
 

This needs to be run as a global admin. The highlighted values should be changed to match the location of the users in AD and the custom message policy name.

Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
# add the OU of the teacher users below and update the highlighted code with your OU path and custom message policy
$teacherUsers = Get-ADUser -SearchBase “OU=XX,dc=XX,dc=XX,dc=XX,dc=gov” -Filter * -ResultSetSize 50000 | Select Name,SamAccountName 
 
foreach ($teacherUser in $teacherUsers)
    {
    write-host $teacherUser.Name
     Grant-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -PolicyName "CustomStudentMessagingPolicy1" -Identity $teacherUser.Name
    }

Stop students emailing the class group

Once a student receives a welcome message into a group, they may reply back to it or find it in the address list and start a large group email.

In the script below connect to Microsoft Exchange PowerShell. You should update the variables with an AD security group for students to apply the policy to. To ensure you only apply this to the relevant teams, use the wildcard search to filter them. In this example we are assuming teams have been named in a format of SchoolCode-AcademicYear-ClassName so we can set the wildcard to only apply this setting to Teams starting with SCH-2019.

######Replace the following variables if necessary##########
$studentADSecurityGroup ="All Students"   #AD Group for all students
$wildcardsearch="SCH-2019*"                #Wildcard for Teams display name - Search for Teams beginning with ....  
###########################################################

$MyCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $MyCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session -AllowClobber
$groups = Get-UnifiedGroup -ResultSize 20000 -SortBy DisplayName -Identity "$wildcardsearch" | Select DisplayName,WhenCreated,Id
 
foreach ($group in $groups)
{
    $teamName = $group.DisplayName
    Write-Host "restricting group emails on $teamName for $studentADSecurityGroup"
    Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "$teamName" -RejectMessagesFromSendersOrMembers "$studentADSecurityGroup"
}

Disable chat for students

Teams is a safe environment for students to chat, chats can be audited and monitored more closely than if they where to use WhatsApp or snapchat outside of the school systems. However, there are some situations where it might require turning off for safeguarding reasons.

Create message policy in Teams admin centre
Teams message policy

Click “Add” to create a new message policy and turn off the chat setting.

Turn off chat for students


Apply Custom Message Policy using PowerShell

This needs to be run as a global admin. The values should be changed to match the location of the users in AD and the custom message policy name.

Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
$studentUsers = Get-ADUser -SearchBase “OU=XX,dc=XX,dc=XX,dc=XX,dc=gov” -Filter * -ResultSetSize 50000 | Select Name,SamAccountName 
 
foreach ($studentUser in $studentUsers)
    {
    write-host $studentUser.Name
     Grant-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -PolicyName "CustomStudentMessagingPolicy1" -Identity $studentUser.Name
    }

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 9 – What is an MIE Expert and how do I become one?

In this podcast episode, we’ve taken a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on a school’s user adoption methods, we’re looking at how the process can be made easier when you have a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) in your ranks.

But what exactly is an MIE Expert and how can your school, multi-academy trust or organisation get one?

We spoke with Elaine Topham, Senior Learning Technologist at Grimsby Institute, MIE Expert and one of six UK-based MIE Fellows.



“An MIE is someone who has nominated themselves to join the Microsoft community of educators that work with Office 365,” Elaine tells us.

“The MIE Status recognises those who are using the latest Microsoft technology in their schools and classrooms to better learning and student outcomes.”

Elaine’s journey to becoming an MIE Expert is an incredible one:

“I’ve always been quite interested in technology; however, I didn’t have the best start – I left school at 15 with no qualifications, so it was quite difficult getting into work,” admits Elaine.

In 2001, she landed a work placement at Grimsby College, working with IT technicians to install computers around the campus and also supporting students who were studying Level 1 and Level 2 IT qualifications.

Several years later, she began working at community learning centres, supporting people who were also completing the IT course:

“I loved this role because it gave me the opportunity to work with people who had perhaps never used digital before – it was a really rewarding job.”

Elaine joined Grimsby Institute in 2010, working as a tutor and teaching IT Functional Skills to students.

“I spent five years in that role, but by this point, I felt that my skills were best suited to supporting teachers in grasping digital. For me, this has a big impact on the students’ learning experience,” she continues.

Today, she oversees the work that the innovation team does, administering VLE and ensuring all their staff have the right training and support they need to do their jobs well.

“Our goal is to make sure our staff are supported and can meet the demands of digital.”

Her recognition as an MIE came about after she was encouraged to apply for the programme by her manager:

“I hadn’t heard of the scheme before, but I looked it up and decided to apply. I put a lot of effort into my application, including all the ways I use Microsoft in my job.”

Elaine was accepted and has been an MIE Expert for almost four years now.

“You have to apply each year, answering questions about why you feel you’re an MIE, what tools you use, and how you share your knowledge beyond the classroom.”

The Microsoft Innovative Educators programme is all about building a community of educators that are willing to share best practice and techniques, so a lot of the benefits revolved around this powerful and well-connected community.

When you’re an MIE, you have a monthly connection call via Microsoft Teams with other MIEs, as well as being kept in the loop about early releases, product demonstrations and new features.

“It’s a global programme, so you get to meet and talk with people from all over the world and learn how they’re using technology in their roles as educators,” enthuses Elaine.

“Because we’re speaking regularly with Microsoft, we also get to guide some of the development of the products, letting them know what works best for us, what doesn’t and what we’d like to see next.”

As Elaine explains, having this kind of insight into the digital tools used throughout your school is invaluable:

“Digital moves so quickly, so being an MIE offers me a quicker way of getting the knowledge I need to be able to pass it onto the staff and students at Grimsby Institute. I’m able to know what’s coming out soon and even shape the future of some of the products to improve the learning experience of our students.”

You can find out more about being a Microsoft Innovative Educator here:
MIE Programs
MIE Expert Applications

There is no limit to the number of MIEs you can have at one organisation, anyone can apply and it’s completely free.

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 10 – Virtual Lessons using Microsoft Teams

We’ve been asked by some schools facing part and full closure to create a podcast about delivering virtual lessons using Microsoft Teams.

In this podcast, we focus on using Microsoft Teams to provide remote lessons.

Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant, explains how these tools allow some continuation of learning, even if teachers or students are unable to get into school or are remotely located.



How do I create a virtual lesson using Microsoft Teams?

Step one is to start a video call to broadcast and record your lesson. You can do this via the general channel.

The idea is to replicate a lot of the things you would do normally in a real classroom, so don’t be put off by the technology.

Of course, virtual lessons are not the same, but the resources available in Microsoft Teams should help you continue to deliver quality lessons and resources to your class.

Once you start the call, you should mute the students. If you mute the first five that enter the video call, the rest are muted automatically.

That’s one thing you can’t do in a real classroom!

All jokes aside, this allows you to smoothly deliver the first part of the lesson; usually a presentation, demonstration or discussion about a specific topic.

If you have a Powerpoint Presentation, a Word Document or a video you’d like to show to the class, you can do so by sharing your screen as you talk through the content.

Meanwhile, if you have something physical to show your class, you can turn your webcam around to demonstrate. This is great for art teachers, design and technology lessons and science subjects.

How do I record a video lesson?

What’s brilliant about Microsoft Teams is that you can record your video lessons so that students can look back on them for future revision, or perhaps if some students can’t make the lesson at the time of delivery.

All recorded lessons can be stored in Microsoft Teams for both you and your students to rewatch at a later date.

Lesson Recording in Microsoft Steam

How do my students complete class tasks in Microsoft Teams?

Once you have delivered the lesson, it’s time to get students started on a task or project.

Students can use OneNote to take notes and complete any tasks or questions you assign them.

Teachers can view students’ individual notesdocuments, just as you would if you were walking around the classroom and looking over their shoulders.

If a student is having some issues, or simply not completing the work, you can message them individually to give support and guidance.

Likewise, if a student is struggling on a specific question, they can message the teacher in a private message, away from the eyes of the rest of the class.

However, we have seen a lot of collaboration between students, where someone asks a question to the class via the general channel and their classmates respond and support them with answers and suggestions.

Can I set up different channels or groups for my class?

There are two ways to set up channels in Teams – private and public. But there are endless ways in which you can use them when delivering virtual lessons.

We suggest the following as a starting point:

Private channels are great for dividing the class into groups, where they can receive different levels of support or work together on a specific project.

Meanwhile, public channels are typically used for dividing resources and lessons. For example, you could create a public channel for each topic you teach, and from here students can access key resources, rewatch video lessons and discuss assignment tasks.

How do I deliver a plenary or finish my virtual lesson?

You can finish the virtual lesson by opening up another video call to answer any final questions students may have.

Students’ work can also be presented to the rest of the class by sharing your screen as either individual students, or groups, discuss the work they’ve created.

Remember, if you record your video lessons, these can be stored where students can access them at a later time.

What are the main barriers of virtual lessons?

There is so much you can do with Microsoft Teams to create a quality virtual lesson for your students. But, we do understand that there are some challenges to delivering classes remotely.

One main barrier is ensuring all of your class has access to a connected device, such as a tablet or mobile phone.

A mobile phone isn’t ideal, but it is the most common. With a smartphone, students can still participate and listen to what is happening, but of course, some of the details may be difficult to see on such a small screen.

Training is also a barrier. We’d recommend going through a few practice runs when possible to make sure that everyone knows how to join a call and access Teams from their devices.

Not only is this great for you as a teacher, who may feel uncomfortable by delivering a lesson remotely, but also reinforces the learning for your pupils.

We wish you the best of luck in delivering virtual learning, and if you do have any questions, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you.

Office 365 User Adoption Episode 8: School Leadership with Microsoft Teams

We’ve spoken a lot on this blog and in our podcast about how Microsoft Teams and SharePoint transforms the classroom, from sharing class resources with pupils to improving student engagement with Digital Ink and Class Notebook.

However, there are also many opportunities to use these tools to drive School Leadership Teams.

We spoke with Gareth Rose, Assistant Headteacher of Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form to see how their School Leadership Teams, Heads of Faculty and Subject Leaders use Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.



“SharePoint is a brilliant tool for sharing files. And, while it has a lot of collaboration tools within it, we find Microsoft Teams the easiest way to co-author documents used and created by the School Leadership Teams (SLT),” explains Gareth.

“We have five core Teams: one for SLT, one for the admins who support SLT, a data admin team and a pastoral middle leadership team that includes SLT and the Heads of Houses.”

A Team acts as a central hub for collaboration – a place where you can talk with Team members, share and co-author files and keep meeting minutes all in one place.

“To keep everything connected with our SharePoint site, Cloud Design Box has set it up so that users can access the relevant Teams from their SharePoint mega menu.”

School Leadership Teams Heads of Faculty and Subject Leaders use Microsoft Teams and SharePoint

Within each Team, Notley High School has private channels where only specific people can access files and conversations. Private channels in Teams can be controversial as many believe you should simply set up a new Team if a private channel is required.

But, as Gareth explains, it’s a structure that has really worked for them:

“If we set up a new Team every time we need a private channel, we’d have far too many Teams with them all linking off in different directions. With our structure, everyone can access, view and edit the files applicable to them.”

To further simplify processes, Gareth has maintained one rule: SharePoint is for sharing finalised documents and Teams is for collaborating on WIP files.

“All the work-in-progress documents are stored within their corresponding Teams, where they can be accessed and edited by the right people. It’s only when they’re finished that they can be released into SharePoint,” he tells us.

“We have a one version policy – if the file is being worked on, it’s in Teams, and if the file is finalised, it’s in SharePoint.”

It’s easy to see why Notley High has chosen this method of working. This is a great example of Office 365, SharePoint and Teams adoption that shows how the products can be used by the school leadership to work together more dynamically, keeping everyone on the same page and everything in one place, without having to waste time copied into unnecessary emails.


Watch the full Office 365 User Adoption podcast on School Leadership with Microsoft Teams on our YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, if you would like to discuss adopting SharePoint, Office 365 or Microsoft Teams for your school or multi-academy trust, speak with a member of our team today.


Cloud Design Box

Bett 2020

Cloud Design Box will be exhibiting at Bett 2020 from Wednesday 23rd January until Saturday 15th January 2020 on stand NQ21. Bett is the global meeting place for education buyers and it’s mission is to create a better future by transforming education and bringing together over 800 leading companies and over 34,000 visitors.

We will be opposite the N4 entrance in the North Hall (near the Tablet Academy escape room).

Tony, Darren, Joanne and Lloyd will be on the stand each weekday. Will, Lloyd and Tony will be around on Friday and Saturday.

We will be sharing a stand build with our partners SalamanderSoft. Speak to them to find out more about Active Directory automation from MIS data plus many more tools. You can find out more information on their website.

The team will be demonstrating our SharePoint and Teams solutions. For current customers, we will show you new features set to be released later this year including Teams assignment analytics and our new admin interface to create intranet sites.

If you don’t get chance to see us, feel free to get in touch for a chat and online meeting on our website.

Bett 2020 SharePoint Teams Education

Class Teams Activation

All Class Teams provisioned by Microsoft School Data Sync are now deactivated for students. This means the students can only access the team once the teacher has pressed the activate button.

Activate Class Team

Monitored Conversations

One huge benefit is that students cannot have conversations in the team until it becomes activated. When hundreds of teams are created for each school every academic year, it’s hard to monitor all of them. With this new setting, teachers only have to monitor the conversations in teams that they have activated.

Prepare Class Teams in Advance

The activation step allows teachers to prepare content in the team before it goes live to students. Prepare your class notebook and assignments in advance before activating it at the start of term.

How to Activate the Team

It’s really simple, just click the “Activate” button shown below and confirm. Students will then have instant access to the team.

Activation

If you need help automating Microsoft Teams from MIS data and getting good user adoption in the classroom, contact us at Cloud Design Box.