Category Archives: Microsoft Teams

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

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

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



The Invisible Child

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

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

Threads in Conversations

Controlling Conversations

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

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

muting students in Microsoft Teams

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

Adding Announcements in Microsoft Teams for Education

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



Creating Assignments using Class Notebook Pages

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

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

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



To set an assignment using a Class Notebook page:

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

Class Notebook in Teams Assignments

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

Class Notebook Section to distribute

Complete the rest of the assignment form and publish it.

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

View student work in Class Notebook and teams

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


Cloud Design Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office 365 User Adoption Series: Cornerstone Academy Trust

SharePoint, Class Notebook and Teams forms the foundation for curriculum delivery at The Cornerstone Academy Trust.

Hearing stories about how other schools and academies are thriving with Office 365 and SharePoint is a great way to feel inspired.

Our new podcast series focuses on real-life user adoption cases and aims to encourage a community resource for those who are interested in how Microsoft can help you, and your pupils, achieve more.

In our third episode, Tony Phillips, Cloud Design Box Founder and Darren Hemming, our Operations Manager, spoke with Jonathan Bishop, CEO of The Cornerstone Academy Trust.



The headteacher – who has been teaching for the past 25 years – offers some real insight into the way Office 365 and SharePoint can be embraced in and outside of the classroom.

“Office 365, SharePoint and – in particular – Class Notebook, has had a huge impact on our Trust. OneNote totally underpins our lesson planning, teaching and student engagement – before, during and after lessons,” Jonathan enthuses.

“It’s the one fundamental tool in Office 365 that supports our whole curriculum delivery.”

The Cornerstone Academy Trust is a multi-academy trust that currently covers Broadclyst Community Primary School, Westclyst Community Primary School and The Cornerstone Teaching School.

Supporting children from the age of two through to 11, the Trust places technology firmly at the helm of the school ethos.

“We have invested in a number of Surface Pro tablets so that our students can access learning resources from wherever they are in the school or at home,” he tells us.

Jonathan describes one typical use of OneNote in the classroom:

“Teachers write on the whiteboard in digital ink, and this immediately syncs to the pupils’ tablets. This content is then used during smaller, targeted group sessions. And, when they get home, students seamlessly pick up what they were doing during the day, further strengthening their learning.”

All learning resources are available at the child’s fingertips, while teachers can work together and prepare valuable learning materials for students.



“We’ve worked with Cloud Design Box to configure each Class Notebook into different zones: one for teacher content, a collaborative zone for on-going projects and a personal area for each child.”

Permissions and roles can be set with ease for each resource. For example, teacher content is read-only and cannot be edited by pupils, while personal pupil areas can only be accessed by the individual and their teacher.

“Parents can also view the content to see what their children are up to in school, whether this is tracking progress or watching a video of their nursery-aged child learn about butterflies.”

More recently, Cloud Design Box has worked with the Trust to integrate Class Notebook with the communications tool Microsoft Teams.

“Teams has built on the strong system we already had in place. It’s added an extra layer of support to our teaching and learning,” Jonathan reveals.

“The ability to chat about work in targeted groups enhances the learner experience and combines the structure of individual assignments with a collaborative team-driven approach – similar to how adults would in the office.”

In fact, Jonathan is very passionate about how digital tools like SharePoint and Office 365 equip pupils with the skills needed for future employment.

Currently, there is a debate about whether or not we are losing traditional skills, such as handwriting and literacy, but Jonathan argues that tablets and technology are complementing education.

“We don’t think of technology as replacing traditional skills, we think of it as allowing a pupil to gain new, 21st century skills that they’ll use in the workplace.”

Some final takeaways from Jonathan:

  • Digital is enhancing the classroom.
  • SharePoint is a solid foundation for curriculum delivery.
  • Collaboration tools empower students to develop skills for their futures.

ESPC: SharePoint Team Sites and Microsoft Teams Working Together

The future role of SharePoint with the advent of Teams has been on my mind for over a year now. Teams is built on top of SharePoint but is an application rather than a website. Teams has chat and collaboration, but SharePoint has news and is interconnected with related sites through Hub sites in sometimes a more intuitive interface. Teams is gaining more user adoption with its modern way of creating an efficient workplace. The governance and admin controls are on their way for Teams too. Which should you use? Do you have to make a choice?

As a SharePoint and Teams provider, it has been hard to determine if Teams was there to replace SharePoint or that it would work side-by-side with SharePoint. My initial thoughts were that SharePoint would be the organisation intranet (communication sites), a place to go for company-wide communication and resources. Microsoft Teams or SharePoint Team sites were great for small-medium team collaboration.

At the European SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure conference 2018 in Copenhagen, Jeff Teper (Corporate Vice President – Office 365) explained the vision for SharePoint and Teams.

Jeff Teper Corporate Vice President - Office 365

The vision Microsoft have is that SharePoint Team sites and MS Teams live side-by-side. In fact, they should be the same collaboration areas but accessed through different mediums. Eventually everything in SharePoint should be surfaced in Teams. Recently Microsoft have released an option to create a Microsoft Team from a SharePoint Team site, this even adds a cool link to open the Team.

The release of SharePoint Framework (SPFx) web parts for Teams supports moving towards this goal, surfacing the same functionality for both platforms (just in a different shell). It also works the other way around, Microsoft Team SharePoint Team sites (the site behind the Team!), can be added to SharePoint Hub sites just like any other SharePoint site so news and events can be aggregated. When planning site architecture, we can now imagine that whatever site or team is planned in either SharePoint or Teams, both could be accessed with either application.

There are still going to be instances where one is preferred over the other. In some scenarios, Office 365 groups with owners and members might not be the preferred access model for SharePoint intranet sites but there is a valid option for these sites – modern communication sites. Microsoft mentioned that they will be closing the gap on differences between communication and team sites and that one day you should be able to convert one to another. This again would help organisations on a long journey moving to a modern team-based flat structure.

More exciting updates to come….

Assign Self-marking Quizzes in Microsoft Teams for Education

Microsoft Forms quizzes can now be assigned to students in Microsoft Teams for education. These are auto-marked and the results are fed automatically into the teachers markbook. Find out how to use this new functionality in the video below.



You can find out more about how we can integrate Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and Class Notebook into an easy-to-navigate class dashboard by visiting the Cloud Design Box website.

Cloud Design Box Class Dashboard