Category Archives: Microsoft Teams

Getting parents engaged in homework using Teams – Free Webinar

Finding the best way to engage and involve parents in their children’s learning can be a challenge for schools. That’s why Cloud Design Box has partnered with Haldor to deliver a homework app that is seamlessly connected to Microsoft Teams Assignments.  

We all know that there are real advantages to parents and guardians being engaged in their child’s learning, especially when it comes to supporting students with homework and assignments.  

In an upcoming webinar on 19 October 2021, we’ll be sharing our top tips on getting parents more engaged with homework by using the tools within Microsoft 365

Sign up for the free webinar on getting parents engaged in homework with Haldor Homework

We’ll also be introducing our new partners – Haldor – and their product Haldor Homework, which gives parents access to their child’s Microsoft Teams Assignments, directly from their computer, tablet or phone.  

Parents can easily keep track of when homework is set and due, see the status of the homework and view any feedback or assessment – everything they need to support blended learning.



The webinar will take place on Microsoft Teams from 11am – 12pm BST on 19 October 2021.  

Everyone is invited to join in, whether you’re a current Cloud Design Box customer or if you’re a school, academy or trust that is interested in achieving more with Microsoft Teams.  

To attend the free webinar on 19 October 2021 please register here 

Using the Reading Progress tool in Microsoft Teams for Language Learning

The new Reading Progress function in Microsoft Teams Assignments works perfectly for language learning. In this step-by-step guide, we show you how you can use the Reading Progress tool to enhance language assignments and grading.  

Teams Assignments currently supports 37 different languages, so there’s plenty of choice for language teachers and their students. The tool allows students to be able to read a passage in a foreign language in an environment that is comfortable and familiar.  

Meanwhile, the teachers can easily pick up on mispronunciations, omissions and repetitions while tracking students’ progress in language learning. The time saved can be dedicated to coaching less confident speakers

In the video, Keith walks you through how to set up, complete and grade a language reading assignment in Microsoft Teams.  



We demonstrate how to set up a Reading Progress Assignment in Class Teams here

Below, we talk about how you can use it for language learning.

Setting up a Reading Progress Assignment for language learning.

  1. Go to your Class Team and head to the Assignments tab.
  2. Select Create to open a drop-down menu. Select Assignment to create a new assignment.
  3. In New Assignment, fill out the details of your assignment, such as the title and instructions. 
  4. Below the instructions section, select Add Resources. 
  5. Select Reading Progress to start setting up the assignment.  

Creating a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

6. First, upload your reading passage. As you can see from the demo, we have our text in both English and German – you can edit your text if you need to and even preview it to see what it’ll look like for the student.  

7. Once you have uploaded your passage, you can change several settings, including reading level, genre, the number of attempts your students will have to complete the task and pronunciation sensitivity. 

Setting up a reading assignment in Microsoft Teams

Pronunciation sensitivity can be set to Less sensitiveStandard (default) or More sensitive, depending on your preferences. This can also be changed after the assignment is completed and you’re reviewing the assignment (see below).  

Changing the Pronunciation sensitivity in Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

Teachers can toggle on and off Video Required to determine whether students need to record a video of themselves reading or simply submit audio. 

This is great for language learning as the teacher can see how confident the student is reading the passage.  

8. When you’re happy with the settings, select Attach to add Reading Progress to the Assignment.  

As with all Assignments, you can add further details before assigning them to students. For example, rubrics and points.  

9. Select Assign to assign to an entire class, group or individual students. 

Assigning a reading progress assignment to a student in Microsoft Teams

How a student can complete a language Reading Progress Assignment.  

Students can see the reading assignment in their Class Teams area.  

  1. Select View Assignment to open the task. There is an icon next to the reading passage they need to record.  

Opening a reading assignment in Class Teams

Note: The first time students use this, they must allow Microsoft to access their microphone, speakers and camera. A dialogue box will appear.  

2. Hit Start when ready to read. 

Completing a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

Note: Students can use Immersive Reader at this stage to change the way the text looks and assist their reading.  

Using immersive reader with reading progress in Microsoft Teams

3. Once the student has recorded their passage, they also have the option to Start Over, or select I’m finished when they’re done.  

When finished, they can return to the original assignment and select the Hand in button to hand it over to you. 

Handing in a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

How to grade a language Reading Progress Assignment.                                                   

  1. Head over to your Assignments tab and select the student you wish to review.  

This will take you to the Reading Progress dashboard – the passage is marked up, with words per minute and an accuracy level. We can also see the recording of the passage.  

Microsoft’s autodetect highlights and colour codes mispronunciations, repetitions, omissions, self-corrections and insertions. 

Grading a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

2. On the left-hand side, you can toggle on/off autodetect depending on your preferences.  

Below this, a slider for Pronunciation sensitivity can be adjusted.  

Teachers can watch/listen to the recording and manually mark up the passage, as well as jumping to specific words of the passage by selecting Jump to word. 

Feedback can be given in the box on the right-hand side of the dashboard.  

3. Select Return to give the feedback to the student. 

You can navigate to the next assignment from the dropdown menu.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, please contact a member of our team today.

 

New Microsoft Teams Update Brings More Benefits to Blended Learning Classrooms

A new Microsoft Teams update for summer 2021 brings a whole bunch of benefits for both students and teachers, helping schools deliver blended and hybrid learning efficiently and in an engaging way.  

We’ve rounded up our top features that you need to try out in your lessons.  

Here’s a quick summary of the update: 

  • Set group assignments. 
  • Return assignments to students for revision.  
  • Lock Teams meetings from additional attendees. 
  • Record classes automatically. 
  • Use a virtual laser pointer in PowerPoint. 
  • Lower all raised hands in Teams meetings. 
  • Immersive Reader for mobile.  
  • More features for Android users.  

Group assignments. 

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.  

Interested in this feature? We have created a short guide and step-by-step video for you on Group Assignments here.  




This feature is great for when you need a student to do extra work after you’ve provided feedback, or even if they’ve simply forgotten to attach a document to their assignment. 

From a student point of view, the assignment is visible in their “active work” list, and they can see the feedback you’ve initially provided.  

All you need to do is select More options next to Return when you’re reviewing a student assignment and then select Return for revision.  

Image: Microsoft

Improved features for hybrid teaching. 

Blended learning, hybrid classroom – whatever you’re calling it in your school – teaching students in school and providing support to those learning from home due to self-isolation can be challenging. 

Teams has brought out several features to improve both teacher and student experience.  

First up, there’s an auto-record setting you can now toggle on and off in your Meeting options as a teacher. Selecting Record automatically does exactly what it says on the tin and records your meeting automatically so that you don’t need to worry about forgetting to record when you start your class.  

Image: Microsoft

Note: You will need to change this per meeting, there isn’t yet a button for recording every meeting automatically.  

During Teams lessons, you can now create a virtual laser pointer when presenting with PowerPoint Live. Only the active “in control” presenter can make annotations – so you don’t need to worry about students becoming distracted and trying out the feature for themselves!  

Many have been using the Raised Hands feature in Teams to allow students to virtually notify the teacher when they want to ask a question. However, up until now, there has been no way for teachers to lower raised hands, and if a student forgets to lower their raised hand, it can be confusing.  

Teams has introduced the ability to lower all raised hands via the Participants pane.  

Better security features for student safety.  

Running lessons in Teams has always been secure, but Microsoft has introduced even more layers of security to ensure student and staff safety.  

Teachers can now lock a class or meeting from any additional attendees. This helps the class stay focused and avoid unnecessary disruption.  

You can find the Lock the meeting option in the Participants pane 

If you want to find out more about boosting security in your Teams lessons, check out this guide on dealing with unwanted guests in Class Teams 

Lock class meetings
Image: Microsoft

Enhanced mobile experience. 

Microsoft has been busy making some general improvements to the mobile experience of Teams.  

Great news! We know a lot of students have relied on their mobile devices to stay connected to their classmates and learning resources during the pandemic.  

In fact, according to the Children’s Commissioner, almost 10% of families in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. So naturally, many students have been using shared mobile devices to access their lessons and homework.  

Some important updates include a mobile version of Immersive Reader, which reads aloud posts and chat messages for users, and an easier-to-navigate Assignments tool.  

Find out how this school is using Immersive Reader to support SEN and EAL students

Assignments on mobile
Image: Microsoft

Teams is now also available on Android tablets and accessing files offline is also available on Android devices.  

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today. 

 

 

 

 

How To Create a Group Assignment in Class Teams

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.   

Below is a walk-through of how you can: 

  • Create a group assignment. 
  • Manually and randomly assign groups for assignments.  
  • Complete a group assignment (as a student). 
  • Grade a group assignment.  


Create a group assignment.  

In Assignments, select Create and then Assignment.  

As with any new assignment in Teams, you can enter a title, instructions, attach any documents the students require, add points and rubrics and set due dates.  

To assign the assignment to a group, go to the Assign to section and this will be currently set to the default All students. Select Group of students from the drop-down menu.  

Group Assignments in Teams 1 - Create a group assignment

You have two options – to manually or randomly assign groups for your assignment.  

Group Assignments in Teams 3 - Manually group students or randomly group students

Manually assign groups for assignments.  

Select Manually group students from the pop-up window and then click Create groups. 

This allows you to filter and manually add specific students to a group. 

You can also add a group name for this group of students.  

Once you’re happy with your first group, click Create. 

Group Assignments in Teams 4 - Manually assign students to a group assignment

You can then choose to add another manual group or randomly assign other groups.  

Tip: There is a countdown of how many students are left to be assigned to a group at the top of the group list.  

Randomly assign groups for assignments. 

Select Randomly assign groups from the pop-up window. 

Enter the number of groups you need and select Create groups 

Group Assignments in Teams 5 - Randomly assign students to a group assignment

You can then go in and add/remove students from groups and change the group names if necessary.  

Editing and deleting assignment groups in Teams.  

If you haven’t already set the assignment, you can edit and delete groups by selecting the pencil icon next to the group you wish to edit.  

From here, you can add or remove members and change the group name. You can also delete the group. 

Want to start over? You can recreate groups by selecting Recreate groups at the bottom of your list of groups.  

Group Assignments in Teams 6 - Recreate groups

Assigning a group assignment in Teams.  

Once you’re happy with your groups, click Done to head back to the main Assignments page and select Assign 

Note: Currently, there is no option to edit groups after an assignment is set. You would need to delete the assignment and reassign all the groups.  

Completing and submitting a group assignment as a student.  

The group project is visible in the students’ general channel – they should receive a notification.  

Group Assignments in Teams 7 - Group Assignment student view

Also, if the student clicks on Assignments, they are able to view the group assessment, see who else is in their group, and open/co-author the document with their classmates.  

Once the group work is complete, one of them can turn in the work on behalf of the whole group by selecting Turn in for group. 

Group Assignments in Teams 9 - Turn in a group assignment

Note: If they have forgotten to add something, students can undo the turn in and add further information, attachments and work. 

Reviewing a group assessment.  

Teachers can see which groups have handed in the assignment by viewing the assignment in the Assignments tab in Teams.  

Group Assignments in Teams 10 - Reviewing group assignments

You can choose to give the group an overall grade or grade students individually by selecting the three dots next to the selected group.  

From here, you can add feedback and give points as you would any other assignment. 

Group Assignments in Teams 11 - Grading group assignments

Click Return to return the work back to students for them to view your feedback or make amends. 

Head to the Grades tab to look at a class overview of who has handed in their group assignments.

Group Assignments in Teams 12 - Class overview of group assignments

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today.

Cloud Design Box Awarded Microsoft SDS Advanced Partner

Cloud Design Box has achieved Microsoft SDS Advanced Partner accreditation. Microsoft SDS (School Data Sync) simplifies class management in Microsoft 365, reading class data from your school, academy or trust’s MIS and creating classes and groups for Microsoft Teams.  

The Partner Success Series for Microsoft SDS is a brand new accreditation.  

“We’re thrilled to have been awarded these further accreditations. It means that our clients can have more confidence in our abilities to install and manage SDS, ensuring their Class Teams are created seamlessly and correctly each academic year,” explains Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box.  

“SDS is recommended best practice when creating and maintaining Class Teams. Not only does it speed up and automate a previous time-consuming task that often took IT managers and staff the whole of the summer holidays to achieve, but it also allows you to create a rich data set of year groups, subjects, schools and more to create future reports across your entire organisation that support the leadership team all year round.”  

You can read more about Microsoft SDS in this guide

The Cloud Design Box team is continuously improving their skills and knowledge on Microsoft 365 for Education and Business, enrolling in Microsoft’s training programmes and courses. We’re proud to add these latest accreditations to our growing list of certifications that includes Microsoft in Education Global Training Partner, Microsoft Partner and CPD certification.

Want to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can support you with your rollover to a new academic year with Microsoft School Data Sync? Get in touch with a member of our team right now 

In the meantime, check out these guides on SDS:

Track Students’ Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams

Reading Progress is a tool in Microsoft Class Teams that supports teachers in tracking their students’ reading fluency and progress. The feature allows students to record themselves reading assigned passages and automatically generates data based on their performance. 

In this guide, we show you how to set up Reading Progress and tailor it to your marking and grading style. 

Note: Reading Progress is currently in the beta phase and due to be released August/Summer 2021.

Watch the full demo by Microsoft here:



How to set up Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams. 

Go to your Class Team and head to the Assignments tab. 

Select Create to open a drop-down menu. Select Assignment to create a new assignment. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams

In New Assignment, fill out the details of your assignment, such as the title and instructions.

Below the instructions section, select Add Resources.

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams

Select Reading Progress to start setting up the assignment. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Set up reading progress

First, upload your reading passage – Word Documents are currently the only file types supported, but you can expect PDFs and sample passages in the future. English is currently the only language currently supported. 

Once you have uploaded your passage, you can change several settings, including reading level, genre, the number of attempts your students will have to complete the task and pronunciation sensitivity. 

Pronunciation sensitivity can be set to Less sensitive, Standard (default) or More sensitive, depending on your preferences. This can also be changed after the assignment is completed and you’re reviewing the assignment (see below). 

Teachers can toggle on and off Video Required to determine whether students need to record a video of themselves reading or simply submit audio.

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Reading progress settings

When you’re happy with the settings, select Attach to add Reading Progress to the Assignment. 

As with all Assignments, you can add further details before assigning to students. For example, rubrics and points. 

Select Assign to assign to an entire class, group or individual students. 

How students can use Reading Progress.

Students can see the reading assignment in their Class Teams area. 

Select View Assignment to open the task. There is an icon next to the reading passage they need to record. 

Note: The first time students use this, they must allow Microsoft to access their microphone, speakers and camera. A dialogue box will appear. 

Hit Start when ready to read. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams student view

Students can use Immersive Reader at this stage to change the way the text looks and assist their reading. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams with Immersive Reader

Once the student has recorded their passage, they also have the option to Start Over, or select I’m finished when they’re done. 

When finished, they can return to the original assignment and select the Turn in button to hand it over to you. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams student view - playback the video

How to review assignments with Reading Progress.

Head over to your Assignments tab and select the student you wish to review. 

This will take you to the Reading Progress dashboard – the passage is marked up, with words per minute and an accuracy level. 

Microsoft’s autodetect highlights and colour codes mispronunciations, repetitions, omissions, self-corrections and insertions. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Review the assignment

On the left-hand side, you can toggle on/off autodetect depending on your preferences. 

Below this, a slider for Pronunciation sensitivity can be adjusted. 

Teachers can watch/listen to the recording and manually mark up the passage, as well as jumping to specific words of the passage by selecting Jump to word

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Manual markup

Feedback can be given in the box on the right-hand side of the dashboard. 

Select Return to give the feedback to the student.

You can navigate to the next assignment from the dropdown menu. 

How to view Reading Progress Insights and Analytics.

Add an Insights Tab into your Class Team by selecting the plus button.

If set up, Reading Progress appears automatically in your Insights tab. In the future, there will also be a spotlight at the top of the screen for Reading Progress. 

Select Reading Progress to open up the analytics dashboard. 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Insights Tab

Choose whether to bring up data for the whole class, a specific reading level, or individual students. You can also change the dates and timeframe. 

A graph is generated to monitor progress over time and, at the bottom of the dashboard, there’s a word cloud to highlight the most challenging words to students.

Reading Progress in Microsoft Class Teams - Challenging word cloud

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

Blended Learning in Primary Schools using Teams with Cornerstone Multi-Academy Trust 

In this podcast episode, we speak with David James, Head of Education at Cornerstone Academy Trust and Anthony Lees, Deputy of Westclyst Community Primary School. 

The Cornerstone Academy Trust is made up of four primary schools, including Broadclyst Community Primary School, Westclyst Community Primary School, Yeo Valley Community Primary School and Monkerton Community Primary School. 

Broadclyst has an international reputation for its use of technology in education and has been awarded EdTech Demonstrator School status by the Department of Education. 

“At Broadclyst, we’ve been using Microsoft for the last 18 years and had been using it as a teaching and collaboration tool. When lockdown struck, we were in a good position and were able to support our other schools in using it,” David explains. 

“We faced similar issues to every other school where there was a variable level of staff confidence and competence with the technology, so we found the ability to host live training events via Teams invaluable.” 

Watch the full podcast episode on blended learning for primary schools here:




Using Microsoft tools to train and onboard staff. 

The trust uses Microsoft Stream to create powerful learning resources for their staff.

“We’re all learners, aren’t we? Not just the students but also members of staff,” Anthony says. 

“Microsoft Stream enables you to create automatic transcripts of the training session, allowing teachers to jump straight to the information they need by using the search tool.”

“We can also drop forms and links into a recording, which means we can check staff retention and ask them to respond to questions throughout the recordings.” 

Teacher training with Microsoft Stream

Saving teacher time with Microsoft 365. 

Teachers at the Cornerstone Academy Trust have been able to save time when creating centralised learning resources as OneNote and Teams have allowed them to collaborate across different schools within the trust. 

“Teachers use the collaboration tools to plan together so four people in four different schools aren’t all spending time planning the same lesson,” explains David. 

“We’ve been doing this to reduce the workload on teachers and decrease the amount of time they spend planning so they can use it creating additional amazing resources or focus their time on training and upskilling.”

During the UK school closures in 2020 and 2021, the four schools in the trust pulled together to deliver online lessons to students with one teacher remote teaching to several classes. 

Saving time planning lessons with OneNote

Starting digital learning early. 

Embracing Microsoft 365 at KS1 and KS2 level has allowed the young students at the Cornerstone Academy Trust to feel comfortable and confident with the tools from an early age.

“Even our nursery staff have started using Microsoft. It may just be a ‘What’s happening today’ picture, but gradually it teaches the children that this is how they can access learning,” says Anthony.

“As they move up through the school, they become more confident, more independent learners who take ownership over their learning.” 

Upskilling the parents and their children. 

A challenge the Cornerstone Academy Trust faced when the UK first went into lockdown was that many of the students were accessing learning on their parents’ mobile phones or shared devices. 

“We’ve run a proactive campaign with parents to help them understand how and why we’re using the technology. It’s about being mindful about the learning content so it’s suitable to be viewed on mum’s phone,” Anthony explains.

“Within two days of knowing the school was set to shut, we created a website and dedicated a team of 15 people to produce resources. We wanted to give them everything in one place, with resources and links for parents, as well as a help desk.” 

A central place for learning with SharePoint.

Student engagement and success with Microsoft 365. 

Tracking student engagement with blended learning has been a huge benefit for the Cornerstone Academy Trust. Each school has been able to have a clear picture of which students are succeeding and which ones may need extra support, as well as who is attending and engaging in the learning material. 

“A member of our leadership team is buddied up with a year group for a set amount of time to work with the teachers to find out what’s going well and what needs to be improved.” 

The future of the Cornerstone Academy Trust and Microsoft 365. 

“Our vision is to create one school with four campuses – this way, we can bring together those economies of scale and make things more efficient and effective. Teams is the place where everyone goes and accesses what they need,” David tells us. 

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

How to use Presenter Mode in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

Using Presenter Mode in a Microsoft Class Teams meeting gives teachers more control over their lesson. They have access to their presenter notes and all the usual Class Teams tools, plus additional presenter options.  

Presenter Mode is only available in the desktop application of Teams.  

 In this quick guide, we show you how to use Presenter Mode and get the most out of it for your next lesson.  

Setting up Presenter Mode in Microsoft Teams. 

Once the Teams meeting has started, select Share Content on the navigation bar. 

Share content in Presenter Mode for Class Teams

This opens up a menu where you can choose to share your entire desktop, specific windows, Microsoft Whiteboard or PowerPoint.  

Select Browse on the right-hand side to either Upload from my computer or OneDrive depending on where your PowerPoint is located.  

 Upload presentation from desktop into a Class Teams meeting

Once you select your PowerPoint, it opens up into the Class Teams meeting.  

Presenter tools in Class Teams. 

The full range of meeting tools, such as View Participants, Meeting Chat and the More Actions menu (…) are visible and you’re able to easily scroll back and forth between slides.  

View participants window is availlable in Presenter Mode z

There are also some additional options beneath your slide deck, including Go to slide, which allows you to bring up a grid of your slide deck and choose a specific slide you wish to present.  

Go to slide view in Presenter Mode

Meanwhile, under More actions (…), you can hide the presenter view from yourself so you don’t see your notes, just the slides.  

Hide presenter view in Presenter Mode 

A further option is to View slides in high contrastToggle this on to only view the images and text on your slides and remove any extra design elements or backgrounds. This won’t change the view for students, only teachers.  

View slides in high contrast in Presenter Mode

What do students see when teachers are using Presenter Mode? 

Students can scroll through the slide deck using the private viewing bar and then select Back to presenter to go back to the slide the teacher is currently on.  

This feature can be switched off by teachers by clicking the Eye icon. When disabled, a line appears across the Eye icon and students are unable to scroll through the slides while you’re teaching.  

Prevent participants from moving through shared presentation on their own

Playing video clips in Presenter Mode. 

There are two ways of showing video clips when in Presenter Mode:  

Videos in Class Teams Presenter Mode

One option is to embed a video into your presentation. This can be viewed by selecting the play button, which plays the video within the presentation.   

Note: This only works if students have the latest version of PowerPoint installed on their device.  

Secondly, you could include a video link. Clicking a link opens the video on a separate window.  

To show the video to your students within the lesson, you need to go back to the Share content button and select the window the video has opened in. 

If you’re using a two-screen setup, it will open on your other screen and in the same way, select Screen #1 or Screen #2, depending on which screen it has opened in.  

Note: You also need to toggle on Include computer sound for your students to hear the video.  

Watch a step-by-step guide on how to use presenter mode in class teams: 

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school, please contact a member of our team today.



Embracing Microsoft at the Fallibroome Trust (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Episode 15)

In this podcast episode, we speak with Stuart Carvell, Assistant Head at Eaton Bank Academy, which is part of the Fallibroome Trust about how Microsoft 365 is being rolled out across the trust and its academies and schools.




Listen on Spotify

“Microsoft 365 was an obvious choice for Eaton Bank Academy. Many of the schools in the Fallibroome Trust are Microsoft Schools, with some exceptions,” says Stuart. 

“As the trust grows, our need to be able to collaborate across schools increases and Microsoft is helping us do this.” 

As with any new technology or process, getting everyone on board can be a challenge. Stuart outlines how the trust is helping people feel more confident with Microsoft by using champions in each school and department:

“It’s good to have people feeling confident when using a new product. We had a group of early adopters that championed Microsoft and shared knowledge with other members of staff,” he tells us.

“The team was made up of around 12-15 people from a range of subjects, job roles and IT ability.”

Skill sharing in this way has been an integral part of user adoption success at Fallibroome and this helped the trust face lockdown and the subsequent school closures.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we brought together our primary and secondary colleagues and asked them to share what they’ve learned about Microsoft 365,” Stuart reveals.

“We’re very lucky that our staff were enthusiastic and ready to share their knowledge.” 

One key to getting staff on board with new technology is to demonstrate its benefits to their everyday teaching.

“In the long run, using these digital tools will save our staff a lot of time. However, it will take time and effort initially,” Stuart continues. 

“Before using Microsoft, we were so used to sending different versions of files, but now we have the ability to co-author the same documents at the same time. It’s all about changing those habits to benefit us in the long term.” 

Adopting Microsoft 365 has also enabled their students to become more independent:

“Our students have become more independent and have said using the software has been a positive experience for them. But can we evidence this? I’m not sure at this point,” he adds.

“What I will say is that, if you asked me a year or two ago if our students could manage their own time, receive an education without being in school and organise their own learning, I would have said no. But now they can do all of that.” 

Another challenge that has affected the Fallibroome Trust is making sure everyone has access to suitable devices and a good level of digital literacy. 

They have created videos and resources to upskill both parents and students, alongside looking into how they can support the school community with laptop lending and loan schemes. 

Stuart tells us that the Fallibroome Trust still has a way to go in terms of its long-term strategy for online learning. But teachers and students are beginning to make real use out of the digital resources and in some cases, online learning has become common practice:

“My colleagues and I have become more comfortable in creating video content for our students and thinking ahead towards a blended approach. Meanwhile, all of our assignments and homework tasks are completed in Teams, so the students are continually using the product and refreshing their skills daily.” Stuart enthuses. 

“Our strategy goes beyond the pandemic. We are building resource libraries and thinking of them as long-term resources that we can use year after year.” 
 

Want to discuss how your school or trust can adopt Microsoft 365? Speak to Cloud Design Box’s education experts today.