Category Archives: SharePoint News

SharePoint news from Tony Phillips

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.

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:



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 Podcast Episode 10 – Virtual Lessons using Microsoft Teams

We’ve been asked by some schools facing part and full closure to create a podcast about delivering virtual lessons using Microsoft Teams.

In this podcast, we focus on using Microsoft Teams to provide remote lessons.

Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant, explains how these tools allow some continuation of learning, even if teachers or students are unable to get into school or are remotely located.



How do I create a virtual lesson using Microsoft Teams?

Step one is to start a video call to broadcast and record your lesson. You can do this via the general channel.

The idea is to replicate a lot of the things you would do normally in a real classroom, so don’t be put off by the technology.

Of course, virtual lessons are not the same, but the resources available in Microsoft Teams should help you continue to deliver quality lessons and resources to your class.

Once you start the call, you should mute the students. If you mute the first five that enter the video call, the rest are muted automatically.

That’s one thing you can’t do in a real classroom!

All jokes aside, this allows you to smoothly deliver the first part of the lesson; usually a presentation, demonstration or discussion about a specific topic.

If you have a Powerpoint Presentation, a Word Document or a video you’d like to show to the class, you can do so by sharing your screen as you talk through the content.

Meanwhile, if you have something physical to show your class, you can turn your webcam around to demonstrate. This is great for art teachers, design and technology lessons and science subjects.

How do I record a video lesson?

What’s brilliant about Microsoft Teams is that you can record your video lessons so that students can look back on them for future revision, or perhaps if some students can’t make the lesson at the time of delivery.

All recorded lessons can be stored in Microsoft Teams for both you and your students to rewatch at a later date.

Lesson Recording in Microsoft Steam

How do my students complete class tasks in Microsoft Teams?

Once you have delivered the lesson, it’s time to get students started on a task or project.

Students can use OneNote to take notes and complete any tasks or questions you assign them.

Teachers can view students’ individual notesdocuments, just as you would if you were walking around the classroom and looking over their shoulders.

If a student is having some issues, or simply not completing the work, you can message them individually to give support and guidance.

Likewise, if a student is struggling on a specific question, they can message the teacher in a private message, away from the eyes of the rest of the class.

However, we have seen a lot of collaboration between students, where someone asks a question to the class via the general channel and their classmates respond and support them with answers and suggestions.

Can I set up different channels or groups for my class?

There are two ways to set up channels in Teams – private and public. But there are endless ways in which you can use them when delivering virtual lessons.

We suggest the following as a starting point:

Private channels are great for dividing the class into groups, where they can receive different levels of support or work together on a specific project.

Meanwhile, public channels are typically used for dividing resources and lessons. For example, you could create a public channel for each topic you teach, and from here students can access key resources, rewatch video lessons and discuss assignment tasks.

How do I deliver a plenary or finish my virtual lesson?

You can finish the virtual lesson by opening up another video call to answer any final questions students may have.

Students’ work can also be presented to the rest of the class by sharing your screen as either individual students, or groups, discuss the work they’ve created.

Remember, if you record your video lessons, these can be stored where students can access them at a later time.

What are the main barriers of virtual lessons?

There is so much you can do with Microsoft Teams to create a quality virtual lesson for your students. But, we do understand that there are some challenges to delivering classes remotely.

One main barrier is ensuring all of your class has access to a connected device, such as a tablet or mobile phone.

A mobile phone isn’t ideal, but it is the most common. With a smartphone, students can still participate and listen to what is happening, but of course, some of the details may be difficult to see on such a small screen.

Training is also a barrier. We’d recommend going through a few practice runs when possible to make sure that everyone knows how to join a call and access Teams from their devices.

Not only is this great for you as a teacher, who may feel uncomfortable by delivering a lesson remotely, but also reinforces the learning for your pupils.

We wish you the best of luck in delivering virtual learning, and if you do have any questions, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you.

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

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 7 – Unlock Classroom Collaboration Potential with Files in Teams and SharePoint

Conversations and instant messaging are only one part of Microsoft Class Teams. Its true power shines through when teachers share their resources with their classes through the File Sharing tabs and SharePoint integration.

Students can immediately access files and resources that their teachers upload and continue learning outside of the classroom.

However, many teachers spend hours uploading and moving files in specific Class Teams. Sound familiar?

Luckily, there’s a much more effective way of managing class resources in Office 365.

Instead of storing your main resources in separate Class Teams, we recommend making use of SharePoint by having a central hub for all of your long-term resources – i.e. the ones your pupils will need over and over again, right the way through the school year.

Not only is this faster for you to manage, but by creating a central SharePoint resource library for each subject, you remove the need to duplicate work while allowing teachers and heads of departments to collaborate when creating valuable learning resources.

“Resources quickly become siloed if you only upload them to individual classes,” Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant says.

Darren is a former teacher of Modern Languages and ICT and is a passionate advocate of blended learning. He has also worked with schools, leading several large-scale learning platform projects for local authorities and for Building Schools for the Future.

“I’ve seen the collaboration and sharing of resources work very well across departments, and even across different schools inside of one multi-academy trust.”

Once this central hub is set up, you no longer have to worry about attaching individual files and folders to individuals Class Teams.

Simply select + to add a tab and then add your SharePoint resource library to the Class Team.



Now, we’re not telling you to avoid sharing anything directly in Class Teams.

Of course, if you have a one-off resource to share with your class on a specific topic, sharing only in Teams instead of SharePoint first makes a lot of sense.

However, creating a central library for your main resources and then adding them to Teams is a much faster, straightforward way of file sharing with your classes.