Category Archives: User Adoption in Education

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 9 – What is an MIE Expert and how do I become one?

In this podcast episode, we’ve taken a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on a school’s user adoption methods, we’re looking at how the process can be made easier when you have a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) in your ranks.

But what exactly is an MIE Expert and how can your school, multi-academy trust or organisation get one?

We spoke with Elaine Topham, Senior Learning Technologist at Grimsby Institute, MIE Expert and one of six UK-based MIE Fellows.



“An MIE is someone who has nominated themselves to join the Microsoft community of educators that work with Office 365,” Elaine tells us.

“The MIE Status recognises those who are using the latest Microsoft technology in their schools and classrooms to better learning and student outcomes.”

Elaine’s journey to becoming an MIE Expert is an incredible one:

“I’ve always been quite interested in technology; however, I didn’t have the best start – I left school at 15 with no qualifications, so it was quite difficult getting into work,” admits Elaine.

In 2001, she landed a work placement at Grimsby College, working with IT technicians to install computers around the campus and also supporting students who were studying Level 1 and Level 2 IT qualifications.

Several years later, she began working at community learning centres, supporting people who were also completing the IT course:

“I loved this role because it gave me the opportunity to work with people who had perhaps never used digital before – it was a really rewarding job.”

Elaine joined Grimsby Institute in 2010, working as a tutor and teaching IT Functional Skills to students.

“I spent five years in that role, but by this point, I felt that my skills were best suited to supporting teachers in grasping digital. For me, this has a big impact on the students’ learning experience,” she continues.

Today, she oversees the work that the innovation team does, administering VLE and ensuring all their staff have the right training and support they need to do their jobs well.

“Our goal is to make sure our staff are supported and can meet the demands of digital.”

Her recognition as an MIE came about after she was encouraged to apply for the programme by her manager:

“I hadn’t heard of the scheme before, but I looked it up and decided to apply. I put a lot of effort into my application, including all the ways I use Microsoft in my job.”

Elaine was accepted and has been an MIE Expert for almost four years now.

“You have to apply each year, answering questions about why you feel you’re an MIE, what tools you use, and how you share your knowledge beyond the classroom.”

The Microsoft Innovative Educators programme is all about building a community of educators that are willing to share best practice and techniques, so a lot of the benefits revolved around this powerful and well-connected community.

When you’re an MIE, you have a monthly connection call via Microsoft Teams with other MIEs, as well as being kept in the loop about early releases, product demonstrations and new features.

“It’s a global programme, so you get to meet and talk with people from all over the world and learn how they’re using technology in their roles as educators,” enthuses Elaine.

“Because we’re speaking regularly with Microsoft, we also get to guide some of the development of the products, letting them know what works best for us, what doesn’t and what we’d like to see next.”

As Elaine explains, having this kind of insight into the digital tools used throughout your school is invaluable:

“Digital moves so quickly, so being an MIE offers me a quicker way of getting the knowledge I need to be able to pass it onto the staff and students at Grimsby Institute. I’m able to know what’s coming out soon and even shape the future of some of the products to improve the learning experience of our students.”

You can find out more about being a Microsoft Innovative Educator here:
MIE Programs
MIE Expert Applications

There is no limit to the number of MIEs you can have at one organisation, anyone can apply and it’s completely free.

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

Class Teams Activation

All Class Teams provisioned by Microsoft School Data Sync are now deactivated for students. This means the students can only access the team once the teacher has pressed the activate button.

Activate Class Team

Monitored Conversations

One huge benefit is that students cannot have conversations in the team until it becomes activated. When hundreds of teams are created for each school every academic year, it’s hard to monitor all of them. With this new setting, teachers only have to monitor the conversations in teams that they have activated.

Prepare Class Teams in Advance

The activation step allows teachers to prepare content in the team before it goes live to students. Prepare your class notebook and assignments in advance before activating it at the start of term.

How to Activate the Team

It’s really simple, just click the “Activate” button shown below and confirm. Students will then have instant access to the team.

Activation

If you need help automating Microsoft Teams from MIS data and getting good user adoption in the classroom, contact us at Cloud Design Box.

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast: 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.

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

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

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



The Invisible Child

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

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

Threads in Conversations

Controlling Conversations

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

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

muting students in Microsoft Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


Cloud Design Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office 365 User Adoption Series: Cornerstone Academy Trust

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan describes one typical use of OneNote in the classroom:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some final takeaways from Jonathan:

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

Office 365 User Adoption Series: Learning From Experience with Gareth Rose (Episode 2).

We understand that seamless user adoption of Office 365 and SharePoint can prove tricky, with many hurdles to jump before your whole organisation is fully on board.

That’s why we’re creating a series of podcasts focusing on real-life user adoption stories, with schools, academies and businesses just like yours.

The second episode features Tony Phillips, Cloud Design Box Founder, and Gareth Rose, Assistant Headteacher at Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form.

Gareth’s experience with user adoption in schools is unique as he has already been through the process of rolling out Office 365, Teams, SharePoint and Class Notebook at his former workplace, Dagenham Park Church of England School.

We spoke with Gareth to find out what tools and techniques he is going to reuse when introducing the Microsoft suite to the staff and pupils at Notley High School.



Create champions.

“My first piece of advice is to get people to become champions of the product. Get the RE teacher to understand the value in putting all their class resources online and show the Music teacher how pupils can annotate in OneNote,” Gareth enthuses.

Starting out with small, basic tasks, Gareth got to know the main pain points of departments and the word spread from there.

“You can see the spark in their eyes when you’ve saved them 20 minutes of time using a basic feature of Office 365.”

Give them no choice.

“A very quick win is changing everyone’s home page to the staff or pupil SharePoint. This gets people familiar with the technology and helps them to become comfortable with using it in the future,” Gareth continues.

“Make it so it’s the only way to access some resources, such as the lunchtime duty rota. When people start to see how beneficial it is to have one calendar that is regularly updated, rather than multiple emails with multiple versions, they begin to gain confidence in the system.”

From here, Gareth explains, the word ‘SharePoint’ was being banded around the staffroom and uttered in staff meetings. By getting people to engage with the platform, you can raise their confidence when it comes to moving more activities across to Office 365.

Have an open-door policy.

“Of course, giving people only one choice when accessing certain documents is risky. But, explain to people, if they have any issues, they can come and see you,” he points out.

“At Dagenham Park, I would sit in with teachers on the first few lessons to get them and their pupils properly set up. In a couple of sessions, teachers and students were writing digital notes and recording their voices in French – incredible to see.”

Working with members of staff and pupils in this way also allows you to understand the many ways in which Office 365 and SharePoint can help enhance the teaching and learning experience.

“After this, it’s kind of like a rolling stone,” Gareth highlights.

“I can see a time in the future where all pupils have iPads. We’ve seen schools hand out devices to their students, but without an ecosystem in which they can actually use them in. What we’re building here is an environment where everyone is on board and using the features of Office 365 to their full potential.”

Final, takeaway points from Gareth:

  • Create and identify champions of Office 365 and SharePoint.
  • Get to know ways in which individuals and departments could benefit from using the suite.
  • Change the homepage and make some resources available only on SharePoint.
  • Be prepared to offer support and answer any questions people have.
  • Design an ecosystem in which people can use Office 365.

If you have any questions about user adoption, or how Office 365 and SharePoint could transform your workspace, school or academy, please get in touch with Cloud Design Box today.