Category Archives: SharePoint Online

How To Share News on Your SharePoint Site

Keep everyone in your organisation in the loop with the news feature on SharePoint. Whether you’re using Microsoft 365 for business or education, this feature is a brilliant way to share important information, announcements and updates. 

The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to set up, create and publish eye-catching content to your SharePoint site members. 

Keith Lown has created a step-by-step guide on how to:

  • Add news links to SharePoint.
  • Add news posts to SharePoint.
  • Bring in news from your other SharePoint sites.
  • Create an email digest with news from SharePoint. 
  • Promote news in SharePoint. 



There are two ways that we can produce a news article within SharePoint. 

Select Add to open a drop-down menu and choose either a News post or News link

Select add to add a new news post or news link

Adding a News Link to SharePoint.

Selecting News link allows you to add a link from an external site into your news section. All you need to do is copy and paste your link. 

This brings up a number of options – you can edit the preview image, title and description. 

Adding a news link to SharePoint

When you’re happy with your News link, click Post and your link will appear in your News area. 

Adding a News Post to SharePoint.

Selecting News post opens up Pages where you can choose from different built-in templates, including Blank, Visual and Basic text.

This provides you with a structure to create your own news content. 

Creating a news post on SharePoint

Each section of this page can be customised – you can change the layout, alignment, colours, set alternative text and add images where appropriate. 

Customising a News Post to SharePoint.

 

Once you’re happy with your content, hit Post news and your post will appear in your News area. 

How to bring in news from your other SharePoint sites. 

Select Edit in the top right-hand corner of your SharePoint site. 

Editing your SharePoint site

Next, go to the News web part and select the pencil icon to start editing it. 

Editing your SharePoint News Web Part

From here, you can change your news source. 

You have three options – bring in news from your current site only, select specific sites to bring in news from and bring in news that’s recommended for the current user. 

If you select Select sites, your frequent sites and recent sites are displayed and you can select which ones you want to bring in news articles from. 

 

Change your news source on SharePoint

 

If you select Recommend for current user, Microsoft will bring in news depending on their assigned role – i.e. news from SharePoint sites they have permissions and access to. 

You can also adjust other settings, such as layout, filters, targeting and order. 

 Customising your news section on SharePoint

 

How to distribute news via email on SharePoint.

Select See all on the News web part. 

From here you can Email a news digest to specific people or groups. 

How to distribute news via email on SharePoint.

 

How to promote specific news on SharePoint

Open up your selected news article. 

Via the toolbar at the top of the page, select Promote.

How to promote specific news on SharePoint

From here, you can:

  • Add page to the navigation.
  • Add the page to an email.
  • Post onto Yammer.
  • Copy the page address.
  • Save page as template.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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