Category Archives: SharePoint in Education

How to get students more engaged outside of the classroom

Getting students engaged outside of the classroom can be difficult. While most students understand that they must complete homework and assignments for their classes, creating homework assignments that are engaging helps to reinforce learning and development.  

Below, we have some ideas on how you can use some of the tools in Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint to create brilliant and effective homework assignments.  

Use the Reading Progress tool. 

The Reading Progress tool in Microsoft Teams is a great way to liven up reading tasks, comprehension and language learning.  

Students can record video or audio of themselves reading a passage and submit it to their teachers for feedback or grading.  

What’s more, Microsoft picks up on any mispronunciations, omissions and repetitions – which is great for saving teacher time when marking.  

Students are also likely to feel more comfortable reading a passage in their own home, rather than aloud in front of their classmates.  

Grading a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

Add audio clips into Class Notebooks and Assignments. 

It’s easy to add audio clips into Class Notebook and we know that some teachers have been using this feature to set learning objectives and instructions for homework tasks.  

Not only does this save the teacher time, but it also injects a bit of life into homework tasks.  

A new feature in Teams allows you to add video instructions directly to Assignments, while students can submit videos of themselves speaking a new language, practising a presentation, reading a passage or playing an instrument. 

Create revision videos that can be used again and again. 

Video is a great way to engage your students outside of the classroom as it’s a lot more engaging than sending over blocks of text and worksheets to revise from.  

You could keep a library of revision videos in SharePoint for your classes to access, or even embed videos into Class Notebook to compliment revision guides.  

As an additional bonus, when it comes to the end of the year, you can reuse the content you’ve created for your new classes – so there’s no duplication in work.

Get creative with whiteboards for assignments. 

A relatively new feature to Assignments, the whiteboard allows you to integrate a virtual board into Assignment tasks.  

You could either assign a previously created whiteboard (i.e. one that you created during a lesson) or add a blank whiteboard with students to work on.  

Another great idea is to create a whiteboard where students fill in the blanks. It gives your class something different to do than work in Word or their Class Notebook.  

Attaching a whiteboard to assignments in Microsoft Teams
Source: Microsoft Tech Community

Test knowledge with quizzes and forms. 

Quizzes and forms can be easily set up in Microsoft 365 and work great in and outside of the classroom.  

One idea is to use a form to quiz your students on their understanding of a previous lesson. Or, you could incorporate a quiz into a reading comprehension task.  

Not only are quizzes and forms more engaging than filling out a Word document, but it also gives you as a teacher an almost instant overview of whether the learning has been understood and what areas you may need to recap during the next lesson.  

onenote quiz

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.

How teachers can save time creating learning resources with Microsoft 365

We know that time is precious when you work in education; whether you’re marking, planning, or delivering a lesson, it can be tricky to find the time to get back to what you love about teaching.  

While we can’t increase the number of hours in your day, we can give you some ideas on saving time when creating learning resources with some essential tools and features in Microsoft 365.   

Centralise resources.   

Create a centralised, long-term resource bank in SharePoint for teaching resources, policies and other documents that can be reused and repurposed every academic year.   

With Microsoft 365, you can create designated areas in SharePoint that only users with the correct permissions can access. For example, only one department, only certain classes or students or only staff members.   

Not only does this save time each year by not having to replicate or reupload resources, but it also means that everyone has access to everything they need to work – whether that’s a student or staff member.  

We provide automation services to create centralised resource areas automatically from your school’s MIS data. Find out more by chatting to a member of our team.  

“Everything we need is in the cloud, so we don’t have to worry about losing paper worksheets. Pupils can also use SharePoint and Teams to download assignment tasks, refresh their memories, take quizzes and be in touch with the teacher in between lessons.” – Whitely Bay High School 

Co-author documents with colleagues.   

Word Documents, PowerPoints, Excel Spreadsheets, and more can be co-authored in real-time with your colleagues.  

Co-authoring is excellent if you need another staff member’s import on a document or if you’ve agreed to share the workload by co-creating learning resources for your department.   

Why spend hours creating a resource from scratch that your colleague has already spent time making?   

Instead, easily and securely share, edit and co-create documents with others in your school, academy or trust.   

Sharing is caring.   

By centralising your resources and co-authoring documents, you can begin to build a powerful library of learning materials that can be shared across an entire department, the whole school or even your trust.   

So, instead of ten teachers creating ten versions of the same document, you can pool together your resources and free up time to spend on other areas, like grading, working with students or professional development (or even just taking a break!). 

“Cloud Box has been transformational in the way we work and create learning content. We are now beginning to create revision resources that can be accessed by our pupils at any time on a connected device. Not only is this brilliant for the students, but also for staff who can dedicate more time to sharpening their message and delivery.” – The Ashcombe School.   

Rollover resources to the next academic year.  

With our Cloud Box solution, there’s no need to start from scratch when a new academic year rolls around.   

Instead, everything – your resources, classes and student information – is cleaned up and rolled over automatically, ready for the start of term.   

We use Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) to start a rollover and clean-up process, our centralised resource areas allow you to reuse resources year on year, while the Class Dashboard enables students to easily access archived Teams from previous academic years.  

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.    

Add students’ upcoming assignments to your school’s SharePoint home page

We have launched a new SharePoint web part exclusive for Cloud Design Box customers called My Assignments, allowing students to see all their current and upcoming assignments from their SharePoint homepage.  

Your school’s SharePoint homepage should give students a quick overview of what’s going on in the school community, and their classroom.  

Popular features of a school intranet include the latest news, an announcement from the headteacher and maybe even a word of the day/week to get students thinking.

But, a common question we get asked by our customers is Is there a way to show upcoming assignments on the homepage? and thats why we created this new web part.  

Schools can now add My Assignments to their SharePoint’  pages 

SharePoint home page with My Assignments web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The student can see what assignments are coming up, what class theyre for and when theyre due. The ones that are overdue are highlighted in red.  

Whats more, the student can click the assignment and be taken directly to that assignment page in Microsoft Teams.  

My Assignments SharePoint web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The My Assignments web part has been designed to make it easier for students to keep track of assignments and take more ownership of their learning.    



If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, you can edit your SharePoint home page and add the My Assignments web part to the page. Please get in touch with support if you need assistance with this.  

If youre not a customer but want to find out how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, get in touch with a member of our team right now 

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.

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.

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.

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

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: