Category Archives: Remote Learning

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.

Assessments and Engagement with Microsoft 365 at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School

In this podcast episode, we speak with Rachael Howarth, Vice Principal of Bradford Girls’ Grammar School about how they’re using Microsoft 365 to assess and engage students in a blended in-classroom and remote learning setting.

Rachael walks us through some key ways in which they’re using Microsoft Forms, Class Notebook, Polls and Insights to increase engagement, save teacher time, give feedback and keep an eye on students’ wellbeing.

“We’ve been using Class Notebook to engage with students who have been learning from home due to self-isolating. It’s been a blend of live teaching and uploading class resources for those students who share devices and need access to content on-demand,” Rachael tells us. 

“We’ve also been teaching in school and using tools in Teams to set assignments and rubrics, run polls to get a quick measure of where students are in terms of their learning.”  



In the video, Rachael demonstrates how the teachers use polls to help students further embed their learning and see which students have understood the lesson and who may need a recap.

“We have been using self-marking quizzes quite successfully – they give the students the answers as they move along,” she explains.

“Polls are like the classroom equivalent of holding up mini whiteboards and getting everyone to hold up their answer – you can get a broad sweep of who is understanding and who isn’t.”  

This type of interactivity is carried through to providing feedback to students. Teachers at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School are adding audio files to students work to give feedback on assignments. Not only is this engaging for students to actually hear their teacher explain something to them as if they were in the classroom, but it’s also saving teacher time as they don’t need to type or format any additional words.

“We’ve also been using audio files for learning objectives – just inserting a clip into a Class Notebook that explains exactly what we want the students to do – they can listen instead of writing out learning objectives and it does save time,” she adds. 

By using Microsoft 365 in and outside of the classroom, the school has been able to collect valuable data around students’ learning and engagement.  

“Some of our students do not have access to the live lessons because they share devices. So we need to look at other metrics to see if they’re participating in other ways: Are they having conversations, are they completing assignments, are they accessing Class Notebook?” Rachael explains.  

But, the Insights dashboard goes beyond checking up to see whether students are completing their homework: 

“It’s been really useful for pastoral support. At one point, we had a large number of users who were working in the middle of the night. So we immediately put out welfare messages to staff, parents and pupils. It gives us the opportunity to have that conversation with our community.”  

Bradford Girls’ Grammar School is embracing Microsoft for the future and not simply a remedy to the pandemic:  

“We’re learning rapidly – we’ve been on a steep learning curve but we’re implementing these interactive methods of assessment into our practice as we develop as remote teachers. Week on week, we’re getting a high-level engagement on Teams – anything between 190 and 700 daily active users – it shows how useful our students and staff are finding Teams.”

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 Clean Up Old Class Teams in Microsoft School Data Sync Summer 2021

The Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) rollover process 2021 has changed slightly since last year, so we have created a video guide to walk you through the process. 

If your profile has expired and you’re ready to start the academic year, then this guide is for you. 



One thing you’ll notice is that there is no longer a cleanup option button. Previously, this button would achieve all of your Class Teams; however, in an effort to give you more choice, Microsoft has removed this button and – if we’re honest – it’s made it more of a tricky process. 

Below are some simple steps we can do – and remember, we only have to do this once every academic year. 

Important: Do not start the new term or year until you have completed the cleanup process. Otherwise, all of your users will get stripped out of those old Class Teams and won’t be able to access their archived Class Teams.

  1. Go to the Groups to bring up the Groups page.
  2. Click the Sections tab and select Section Report
  3. Select Generate new section report. This report provides information on class names, metadata associated with the class, state of the class team, created date and SharePoint site status. 
  4. Download the Section report once it has been processed.

Tip: If you format the spreadsheet into a table and create headers, you can then sort the information by Name or Section. 

  1. Find the correct SectionId for the Teams you want to clean up. Naming Teams correctly with the correct prefix and academic year will save you time here. 
  2. Remove the Teams from the spreadsheet you don’t want to clean up, and you should be left with the teams from the correct school and academic year. Save the spreadsheet.
  3. Return to Section Cleanup and upload the edited Section Report.
  4. You can Mark the Classes as Expired or Archive Teams (we’d recommend the latter as all the Teams are available in read-only mode). 
  5. Select Run cleanup.
  6. Check that your classes have been archived off. It should have cleared them from the SDS Profile. 

Now it’s time to start the new term/year.

  1. Select Start new term/year. 
  2. If you’re using CSV files, you need to upload your new CSV files. If you’re using an API or OneRoster, you need to make sure your new data is ready to sync. 
  3. Set a profile expiry date and configure the other options on the page. 
  4. When you’re ready, select Sync, and it’s now ready for the new academic year. 

We have a guide on how teachers can find those archived Teams, how to move over your old Class Notebooks and make sure you don’t lose long-term resources. 

If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, we do all of this for you. Just make sure you complete the Roll Over form in plenty of time. 

You also benefit from an easy-to-use class dashboard where you can access all of your archive Class Teams. 

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

Free webinar: Achieve more in Teams as a MAT with Cloud Box

Cloud Design Box is hosting a free virtual event for Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) to demonstrate how our Cloud Box package can help streamline teaching processes, enhance learning resources and save teacher time using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. 

The one-hour session takes place on Wednesday 23 June 2021 from 11am until 12pm and runs through a demo of our Microsoft 365 product – Cloud Box – looking at how trusts can set up Teams in a way that creates centralised, long-term resources that all schools in the trust can use year after year. 

Sign up to Achieve more in Teams as an MAT with Cloud Box

Cloud Design Box recently worked with the Fallibroome Trust, which is made up of 10 schools, including primary, secondary and academy-status schools. 

“As the trust grows, our need to be able to collaborate across schools increases and Microsoft is helping us do this,” says Stuart Stuart Carvell, Assistant Head at Eaton Bank Academy, which is part of the Fallibroome Trust.

“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. We are building resource libraries and thinking of them as long-term resources that we can use year after year.” 

See what Stuart had to say about Microsoft Teams for his MAT:



Delivered through Teams, the session welcomes anyone who is working in a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), whether you’re brand new to Microsoft 365 or have already started using the tools. 

Built around the concept of centralising learning resources and data, the Cloud Box package helps organisations to implement a long-term plan to reduce costs, save time and make the most of the software. 

Thanks to staff training, support and user adoption metrics, no one in your organisation is left feeling unconfident with the new tools and can start using them in ways that really help them in their everyday roles. 

Meanwhile, students have more control over their learning, with the ability to access resources and materials on any connected device, as well as receive real-time feedback from their teachers. 

To learn more about how Cloud Design Box can help your MAT, sign up for the free one-hour session on Achieve more in Teams as a MAT with Cloud Box on Wednesday 23 June.

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.



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

Why Should Your School or Trust Use Microsoft School Data Sync? 

When considering Teams for your school, there are several different approaches, you can create your own Class Teams manually, use a PowerShell script or take advantage of Microsoft’s School Data Sync.  

Below, we have rounded up the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which is best for your school, academy or multi-academy trust.  

Create your own classes manually. 

Teachers can create their own Class Teams and manually add or remove students as and when they join or leave the school. 

However, this process is very time consuming and needs to be repeated every new school year, with the teacher also responsible for keeping track of new students and those that may leave the school.  

This is more suited to primary schools or smaller schools where there aren’t that many classes to create and maintain.  

Pros: 

  • Teachers can quickly create and maintain their own Class Teams. 
  • No additional coding or script is needed.  

Cons: 

  • It’s time-consuming. 
  • Whole school reporting is limited. 
  • No standardisation across Teams. 
  • No parental engagement tools. 
  • Manual archiving rollover process each academic year. 

Use a PowerShell script. 

A PowerShell script can be generated to create your Class Team as a one-off or ongoing link via your school’s MIS. This creates the classes and keeps them updated, however, there are limits to using PowerShell, such as some functionality that is provided by Microsoft School Data Sync.  

Pros:  

  • Less time consuming than manually creating your Class Teams.  

Cons: 

  • Limited functionality when it comes to whole school reports.  
  • Some features provided by Microsoft School Data Sync are not available with PowerShell. 
  • Scripts required to archive classes and roll over the academic year. 
  • No parental engagement tools.  

 

Use Microsoft School Data Sync.

Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) is recommended best practice when creating and maintaining Class Teams. 

Not only are there several APIs and third-party products to help you automate a lot of the process, but there are many added benefits to using SDS.   

Firstly, you’re able to include additional information to your data set, including grades (year groups), courses (subjects), schools and more, which enables you to report on insights across the entire school. These reports help your leadership team improve user adoption and provide support where needed.  

At the end of each academic year, there is a clear rollover and clean-up process, automatically linking up with your MIS and allowing all students and staff  (new and continuing) access to everything they need while removing permissions of school leavers and former members of staff.   

Another useful feature is the parental engagement tools – SDS uploads guardian information to automate weekly email digests of work set through Teams for their children.  

Microsoft is continually working on new features to support the ever-changing landscape of education and blended learning. In fact, it’s going to be rolled up into a bigger Microsoft Data Sync model, so you may see a name change shortly, but the data strategy will still be as powerful, if not more.  

Pros: 

  • Automated creation of Class Teams linked to MIS. 
  • Automated roundup sent to parents/guardians of their child’s work. 
  • In-depth school/trust-wide reports that enable you to provide better leadership, training and support to your students and staff.  
  • Easy-to-use rollover process – no manual set up each academic year.  

Cons: 

  • Third-party products may be required to set up a live link with School MIS because doing it manually with CSVs can be time-consuming. 

Microsoft School Data Sync is best suited to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts that wish to save teacher time, achieve more with their data and support students in a blended learning approach.  

Already have Microsoft School Data Sync? Talk to us about how we can extend this to provide central resource areas, SharePoint intranets, Class Cover tools and much more

Not set up with Microsoft School Data Sync? We can help you get started and future-proof your Class Teams setup. Contact us for a friendly chat with one of our Education Experts.  

How To Share Pages From Non-Class Notebooks to a Student’s Class Notebook in Teams and OneNote 

In this guide, we show you how to distribute a page from a non Class Notebook to a students’ Class Notebook within a Class Team.  

Here we have a Notebook that has been stored within an English resources folder on SharePoint. Within the Notebook, there’s a worksheet that we need to distribute to the Year 7 English students’ Class Notebooks. 

Select Class Notebook.  

Note: If this button is not visible, select Open in Desktop App from the top navigation bar. If the button still isn’t visible, it needs to be activated via the three-dot (…) menu and Settings in the top-right corner of the screen. 

Once you have selected Class Notebook, select Distribute page to bring up a number of options. 

Open Notebook Distribution

Choose Cross Notebook Distribution to bring up all the Notebooks of the classes you teach.  

From here, you can select the Notebooks you wish to share it to. E.g. “English Year 11” 

Select Student Section

You must then select a student section in the selected Notebook to share the Notebook to. E.g. “Homework”. This action distributes the worksheet from your Non-Class Notebook to your selected students’ Notebooks. In this case, “English Year 11”.   

How To Share Pages From Non-Class Notebooks to a Student’s Class Notebook in Teams and OneNote

Head to your selected Class Team to check whether it has been shared to the Class Notebooks. As you can see, the worksheet is now in the students’ Notebooks. 

Watch a step-by-step guide on how to lock your collaboration space in Class Teams: 

If you have any questions on how to share pages from non-Class Notebooks to a student’s Class Notebook, please contact a member of our team today.



How To Turn Off The Chat Feature in Class Teams

The chat feature in Microsoft Teams is a useful tool that allows students to communicate with their teachers and peers during online lessons. However, there may be times where the chat feature isn’t necessary and is causing distractions during lesson time.

Similar to the mute feature on Teams, this can easily be controlled and turned off, enabling you to teach without any interruptions. 

There are two simple ways to turn off the chat function, this can be done before or during your online lesson:

Disable chat function in Class Teams before your lesson.

You can disable the chat function before your lesson starts through Meeting options. This can be accessed on the calendar entry for your meeting.

Meeting options is found under Details on the calendar entry. 

Disable chat function in Class Teams before your lesson.

When the Meeting options menu appears, you can disable the meeting chat, along with other options for your meeting, such as who can present and allowing your students to un-mute themselves. 

To turn off the chat feature, change the Allow meeting chat option from enabled to disabled. Make sure to click Save after – this disables the chat function and activates any other changes you’ve made. 

Turn off chat function in Class Teams before your lesson.

Your students are made aware that the chat function isn’t available in the chat window when the lesson starts. 

Turn off chat function in Class Teams before your lesson.

Disable chat function in Class Teams during your lesson.

Teachers can also disable the chat function during the lesson. This can be useful when you want to disable the chat during certain parts of your lesson. 

At the top of your screen, there are a few options that allow you to control your meeting. To disable the chat function, you need to select the more actions menu (…).

When the drop-down menu appears, select Meeting options

To turn off the chat feature, change the Allow meeting chat option from enabled to disabled. Make sure to click Save after – this disables the chat function and activates any other changes you’ve made. 

Disable chat function in Class Teams during your lesson.

Enable chat function in Class Teams during your lesson.

At some point during your lesson, you may want to turn on the chat function to allow your students to communicate again. This can be done the same way by selecting Meeting options and enabling Allow meeting chat

Enable chat function in Class Teams during your lesson.

Using Meeting options is a great way to control your lessons and prevent any distractions during lesson time. The simplicity of this process also allows you to quickly change these options during your lessons giving you the freedom to activate and deactivate at any time and allowing students to contribute and communicate at the right times to enhance their learning. 

Enable chat function in Class Teams during your lesson.

Watch our step-by-step video on how to turn off the chat feature in Class Teams: