New Search Coach: Enhancing student research skills

Search Coach is a Microsoft Learning Accelerator that helps students develop their research skills when searching the web.  

Microsoft Learning Accelerators aim to make education more accessible by providing students with the tools they need to develop their learning and teaching them skills that are essential in further education and later in their professional life.  

Many of the accelerators are integrated into Microsoft’s existing apps, such as Microsoft Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word.  

In this guide, we’re focusing on Search Coach, which students can use to improve their research skills.  


How to use Search Coach.

Search Coach can be added to any Class Team and works in a very similar way as any other search engine.  

However, the difference is Search Coach offers tips on how to form effective search queries and trusted sites while allowing students to add filters to their searches in a distraction and ad-free environment. 

To start using Search Coach, all you need to do is type something in the search bar and hit Enter on your keyboard.  

Your search results will appear normal, and you can tap on a result to open a website, as you would with Google or another search engine. 

How to use search coach

Search Coach features we love:

Search tips – Every day, there’s a new search tip on the homepage. Search tips also appear as you search.

NewsGuard – Rates the credibility and transparency of each website.

NewsGuard Search Coach

Domain filter – You can set up Search Coach to only show results from specific domains, for example, .com, .gov or .edu. You can also choose to filter by specific regions.

Domain Filter Search Coach

File type filter – Helps students find resources in specific formats, like PDF or PowerPoints, which can help them discover academic articles.

File Type Filter Search Coach

Date range filter – Students can select a specific date range from which they want to find relevant information. This allows them to discover the most up-to-date information or even choose to find articles from a previous time period.

Operators filter – Help students make their search more specific.

vOperators Filter Search Coach

How to add Search Coach to your Class Team as a teacher. 

Search Coach can be added to any Class Team.  

  1. Go to the Class Team you wish to add Search Coach to. 
  2. Select the plus button (+) at the top of the channel.  
  3. A window will appear. Type Search Coach in the search bar and select Search Coach. The icon is green with a magnifying glass.  
  4. Tap Save to add to your channel.  

How to personalise Search Coach for your class. 

When you have set up Search Coach, you can personalise the settings to suit your class.  

Simply tap Class settings to: 

  • Change the background. 
  • Choose which search filters are activated. 
  • Choose which search filters students can switch on/off.  
  • Create your own optional filters.    

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Cloud Design Box recognised by Mind for its commitment to workplace wellbeing

Cloud Design Box has been recognised for its commitment to workplace wellbeing by the mental health charity Mind.

We’re thrilled to reveal that we are one of 61 organisations to take part in Mind’s seventh annual Workplace Wellbeing Index and have been recognised with a Gold Award. And our Onboarding and Adoption Manager James Emmet has won the Wellbeing Lead Award.

We’re honoured to have been recognised for successfully embedding mental health into our policies and practices and demonstrating a long-term, in-depth commitment to staff mental health.

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best policy and practice, celebrating the good work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health, providing key recommendations on the specific areas where there is room to improve. This year, Mind surveyed almost 16,000 employees across the 61 employers participating in the Index.

Mind wellbeing index

The 2022-23 Index Awards, hosted by Mind’s CEO Sarah Hughes, took place on 29 June and saw people from a wide range of organisations across sectors come together to celebrate their achievements.

“Winning the Mind Wellbeing Lead award for 2023 is a huge honour, and I am deeply touched to have been recognised. I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve as Staff Wellbeing Officer in an incredible company like Cloud Design Box, where wellbeing truly is at the heart of everything we do. And to have had the privilege of working with an incredible team of dedicated individuals who share my passion for supporting and caring for staff,” says James.

“For me, staff wellbeing is, and has to be, at the heart of everything we do. We can’t succeed and embody our Company Values – one of which is ‘Friendly and Supportive’ – if our staff are not thriving and performing at their best. It means creating a work environment that fosters positive relationships, supports personal and professional growth and provides resources and tools to help our employees manage stress and achieve work-life balance.”

James Emmett

Our commitment to wellbeing at work.

As part of our commitment to prioritising the wellbeing of our team, we have built three core things into our workplace culture:

Wellbeing intranet

Filled with resources for all staff to access from any connected device, including a mental health action plan following guidance from Mind. This not only helps our line managers support their team to spot and address the signs of poor mental health, but also every staff member to look after their own wellbeing.

Monthly wellbeing chats

Every member of staff at Cloud Design Box has a monthly wellbeing chat with one of our Wellbeing Champions. In these sessions, the staff member can talk about anything they wish, and their purpose is to build up a relationship with the Wellbeing Champion, so if they are struggling with something, they feel confident to talk about it.

Staff training

We have also delivered training for all staff and manager-only sessions to help raise awareness of the topic of wellbeing at work, as well as spot the signs of poor mental health in ourselves and our colleagues.

Our staff’s thoughts on wellbeing at Cloud Design Box.

An award for a commitment to staff wellbeing means nothing without the honest opinions of our staff.

As part of our application to Mind’s Wellbeing Index, our staff were sent a survey that asked them for their thoughts and feedback about our commitment to wellbeing.

Here are some of the key findings from the staff survey:

85% are motivated by workplace culture at Cloud Design Box.

90% feel Cloud Design Box encourages openness and discussion about mental health.

80% feel Cloud Design Box makes it possible to speak openly when experiencing mental health problems.

90% say their manager regularly checks in on how they’re feeling.

80% of staff who have experienced poor mental health while working at Cloud Design Box felt confident they would be supported.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to try and support our staff by frequently promoting awareness and educating all members of staff on the importance of wellbeing, mental health, and self-care, whether this is in-person, through presentations, or online content.” James adds.

“I had only ever hoped to help one person who may have been struggling and I would’ve considered that a huge victory. But the recognition of the work that all of Cloud Design Box has contributed to, and me personally as Staff Wellbeing Officer is beyond my wildest dreams.”

Our comitment to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our staff wont stop here. We have signed up for the Mental Health at Work Commitment to continue our work in this area.

Andrew Berrie, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said:

“Following the profound changes to working life brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations have spent the previous year reflecting on the changes in ways of working that have been beneficial whilst seeking to navigate new uncertainties and external factors impacting mental health and wellbeing.

I find it encouraging to see that mental health outcomes at work appeared to bounce back post-pandemic. The pandemic increased focus and expedited workplace wellbeing agendas, with more attention given to implementing mental health and wellbeing initiatives at work.

We are now experiencing the positive effects of this effort, with more employees reporting that they had good or very good mental health and fewer stating they experienced a mental health problem in their present role.

The organisations participating in our Workplace Wellbeing Index are, undoubtedly, leading the way in their work to assess the impact of their efforts. By consulting with their people on what is working and where they could improve, and embedding best practice, they are prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing.

Despite these positive findings, there are worrying trends which threaten the future state of mental health in the workplace. Organisations appear to be experiencing ‘wellbeing fatigue’, with mental health and wellbeing beginning to make fewer appearances on strategic agendas. With the effects of recession on the horizon and the present cost-of living crisis, there is a danger that workplace wellbeing may fall out of focus, something which has already begun to have a negative impact.

We also recognise that stigma remains a significant challenge and is likely to be growing in the midst of economic hardship. Already, fewer employees are disclosing mental health problems to their employers and fewer are being honest when mental health has been a reason for absence.

With all of this in mind, there is a growing and pressing need for employers to reassert their commitment to employee mental health and invest in workplace wellbeing, in a way that addresses current challenges and the unique circumstances and experiences of staff.”

To register your interest in taking part in next year’s Workplace Wellbeing Awards, please visit

Cloud Design Box finalists for People in Business Awards 2023

We’re delighted to reveal that Cloud Design Box and our dedicated team members are finalists in the Hull and East Yorkshire People in Business Awards (HEY PIBA).

The awards – which celebrate their fourth year this summer – acknowledge the remarkable talents and contributions of individuals and teams across various industries and raise the profiles of dynamic professionals within the region.

Cloud Design Box as a company has earned itself a spot as a finalist for the Judges Recognition Award. But we’re also thrilled to say that many of our staff members and our Onboarding and Adoption Team have secured places in several categories.

Cloud Design Box Team

Joe Bannister, Deputy Support Manager, has been shortlisted for the Mentor category. Reflecting on his nomination, Joe expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the growth and professional development of his team members:

“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to assist others in achieving their goals. I take immense pride in being selected as a finalist for this award, and I am excited to see what lies ahead in the future.”

joe bannister

One of our newest team members, apprentice Jack Fullard, has also been recognized as one of the top three finalists in the Apprentice of the Year category:

“Being nominated for the Apprentice of the Year award is a great accomplishment. The nomination not only reflects my hard work but also demonstrates how much the team has helped me progress both professionally and personally,” enthuses Jack.

James Emmett, the Onboarding and Adoption Manager, has been selected as a finalist in the Manager category. James attributes his success to the unwavering dedication and resilience demonstrated by his team. Together, they have transformed challenges into opportunities, leveraging their strengths to propel the organization toward excellence. James regards this recognition not only as a personal achievement but also as a testament to the remarkable efforts of his team.

James Emmett

Furthermore, James and his entire Onboarding and Adoption team have been named finalists in the Team Impact category:

“The Onboarding and Adoption Team have worked diligently and relentlessly to improve the processes and procedures that have had a positive impact on the wider company and our customers. Becoming a finalist for Team Impact in the Hull and East Yorkshire People in Business Awards is a humbling recognition of the transformative power we possess when we come together with a shared purpose,” James adds.

Tony Phillips, the Founder and CEO of Cloud Design Box, expresses his pride for the whole team:

“I’m so proud of our exceptional team and their outstanding achievements. It was a surprise to see so many of our team nominated for awards, it’s great to see their hard work being recognised and the rest of the team is looking forward to supporting them on the night.”

The winners of the HEYPIBA awards will be revealed at the ceremony on Friday 30 June 2023.

How to set up branching in Microsoft Forms

The new branching feature in Microsoft Forms allows you to create an interactive survey, that brings up specific questions based on the responses given by participants.

Microsoft Forms is an invaluable tool for both teachers and students, offering educators a quick and easy way to create surveys and quizzes to gather insights into a class’s learning and development.

Branching in Microsoft Forms

Branching in Forms allows you to create a logical flow in your form, with follow-up questions appearing related to the respondent’s answer to the previous question.

To give an example, the question could be something like:

“In my spare time, I like to…” with multiple choice answers including Play sport, Read or Other.”

With branching, you can set it up so that if a participant selects “Play sport”, a further follow-up question can appear asking “What is your favourite sport to play?”

In this guide, we show you how to set up branching in Microsoft Forms for a more interactive and dynamic experience for your participants.


How to set up branching in Microsoft Forms

Branching in forms is a simple process and can be done once you’ve created all your questions in your form.

Note: Simplicity is key with branching, and it may not work as effectively if you’re trying to branch on multiple answers at a time.

  1. When you’re happy with your questions on your form, select the three dots (…) and a dropdown will appear.
  2. Tap Add branching to open Branching options.

Add branching in Microsoft Forms

3. From here, you are able to go through each question and add a branch to your answers.

 Branching in Microsoft Forms

How to add a branch to a question in Microsoft Forms.

After opening Branching options (see above steps 1-3), you can go to the question you wish to branch and go through each answer, using the drop-down menu to select which question the respondent will see next if they choose that answer.

Choose branching questions in Microsoft Forms

For example, if the respondent chooses “Read”, they’ll be directed to a question asking “What books do you like to read?”.


If you don’t want to ask any other questions after your selected question, choose End of the form to direct them to the end of the questions.

How to remove all branching from a Microsoft Form.

Branching can easily get a bit complicated, so if you do make a mistake, you can reset the form by selecting the three dots (…) and tapping Reset.

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Creating Word Cloud Challenge assignments in Microsoft Teams with Reading Progress

Microsoft’s Reading Progress tool is great for language learning and improvement, giving teachers and students valuable insights on improving pronunciation and accuracy.

See our guide on using Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams. 

In this blog, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the Word Clouds that Microsoft Teams produce based on the words your class is finding most challenging and how to generate Word Cloud assignments to help students further improve their understanding.


To enable Challenging Word Clouds, you must set at least one or two Reading Progress assignments in Microsoft Teams for your class.

View a challenging word cloud for your whole class.

  1. Go to the Insights tab in Microsoft Teams.

Select Insights Tab in Microsoft Class Teams

From here, you’ll be able to see data from assignments, reflections, student engagement and more.

2. Tap Reading Progress to dive into your class’s reading progress and a word cloud showing words that your class is struggling with as a whole.

Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

3. Select the word cloud to begin setting an assignment for your students based on the words they’ve been struggling with the most.

Create Challenging Word Clouds with Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

With your class data and AI technology, Teams can recommend similar words students may find challenging.

Set a Word Cloud Challenge assignment for the whole class.

  1. Follow steps 1-3 to view your class word cloud.

2. Select Create challenge assignment. 

Set Challenging Word assignments for your class in Microsoft Teams

From here, you can set an Assignment as you would normally in Microsoft Teams.

word cloud challenge


Set challenges for individual students.

You can see individual student data by searching for names in the Insights search bar.

Search Student in Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

Then follow the above steps for setting a Word Cloud Challenge assignment for the whole class to generate their word cloud and set an individual challenge assignment.

Display a word cloud on your Class Homepage.

You can display your class word cloud on your Class Homepage in Teams as a Web Part.

Add Challenging Word Clouds to your Class Team's Homepage

  1. Go to your Class Homepage.
  2. Tap Edit. From here, you can edit your Class Homepage.
  3. Hover over the area you wish to add your Word Cloud and a plus button should appear. Tap the plus button.
  4. Add Challenging Words. You can search via the Web Part Search bar.

add to class homepage

    5. Tap Republish.

The Web Part is now visible to any student visiting your Class Homepage. It updates in real-time, so as your classes’ challenging words change, they’ll display on your homepage.

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Effortlessly Track Student Assignments with Our New Search Feature

Introducing our new student assignment search feature, now available to all teaching staff! With this latest addition, you can effortlessly search for a student and view all of their Microsoft Teams assignments. As a head of year or registration group teacher, you can use this tool to support students with their workload or quickly check the status of assignments.

New Microsoft Teams Assignment Search Feature

To access this feature, simply look for the link in the school SharePoint menu under “communications” (depending on your configuration). Please note that only teaching staff will be able to view the link. If you are a part of a multi-academy trust, the search will be scoped to the school where you are currently teaching.

Accessing student assignments via the SharePoint menu

This feature not only displays current assignments, but also allows you to view all past assignments. You will see the name and status of each assignment, as well as the class name and subject.

Teams assignment drill down

Select an assignment to delve deeper, where you can easily access teacher comments and view the assignment grade. The user can easily start a Teams chat with the person who set the assignment or send them an email.

Why should teachers use the assignment search tool?

Assignment detail demonstration

If you are interested in our education Teams and SharePoint solutions, get in touch with our team today. Experience the convenience and efficiency of our innovative features and take your teaching to the next level!

For more information about the Cloud Design Box tools, contact us on our website:

Student Guide to Microsoft Teams Assignments

For students, Microsoft Teams Assignments is a powerful tool for managing schoolwork, staying organised and keeping track of homework grades and feedback.

In this guide, we run through the basics of Microsoft Teams Assignments for students, from getting notified about your new assignments and accessing resources to completing homework and viewing teacher feedback.

View your assignments in Microsoft Teams.

There are a few ways you can view your assignments in Microsoft Teams:

View assignments for a specific class in Teams.

Go to the Class Team of the class you want to view assignments for and tap the Assignments tab.

Viewing assignments from Class Teams

View all your upcoming, past and completed assignments.

Go to the My Teams toolbar on the left-hand side of your screen and select Assignments.

Viewing assignments from Assignments tab

From here, you can select Upcoming, Past due and Completed to see your assignments.

View past upcoming and completed assignments in teams

Notifications about new assignments in Teams.

You should be notified in your Activity feed whenever a teacher sets you a new assignment. Tap the assignment in the Activity feed to view it.

Viewing assignments from Activity Feed

Completing an assignment in Microsoft Teams.

Open your assignment to view all the details and resources provided by your teacher. This could include a set of instructions/description of your assignment, attached reference materials/worksheets and the due date and time.

View Assignments in Microsoft Teams

If the assignment is being graded, you can view how many points are available, plus the rubric (marking scheme).

View Rubrics for Assignments in Microsoft Teams

If your teacher has attached a worksheet or template for you to work from, you can click on the attachment and work directly in Teams.

View Assignments in Microsoft Teams Reference Materials

If you need to add files or documents to complete your assignment, tap Attach (paperclip) and you have the choice to:

  • Upload a file from your device.
  • Attach a file from OneDrive.
  • Attach a file from another Teams channel.

Did you know?

You don’t have to finish your assignment in one go. You can come back to your assignment at any time. Close Teams and your progress is automatically saved.

Submitting an assignment in Microsoft Teams.

When you’re happy with the work you’ve done, you can submit your assignment by tapping Turn in in the top right-hand corner.

Turning in an assignment in Microsoft Teams

View feedback and grades for your Assignment.

You can view your grades and feedback on your work by going to Assignments and then selecting Completed.

If your homework was graded with points, you can see these on the right-hand side. 


If your assignment contains any feedback, you can see a small feedback bubble.View grades on your Assignments in Microsoft Teams

Tap the assignment to find out more about your feedback. You can also select Rubric to see how your work has been marked against the marking scheme. 

Sometimes your teacher may leave feedback on the document itself. 

feedback in teams

View all your grades from one class.

Go to the class in Teams you want to view grades for and tap Grades to bring up a grid of all the work you’ve completed for that class, whether you’ve turned it in on time and any feedback/grades from your teacher.

view grades

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Digital transformation in a leading independent boarding school

Head of Digital Learning at a leading independent school talks about how using Microsoft 365 has developed and improved teaching and learning.  

Henry Exham currently teaches at a boarding school with 830 students ranging from 13-18. He joins our COO Darren Hemming to talk about how the school utilises Microsoft 365 and how it can be useful for independent schools looking to improve and develop their teaching and learning.  


Improving communication in an independent boarding school with SharePoint. 

Communication is essential in a large boarding school, Henry points out. With students living on campus, there is a lot more ground to cover when it comes to communicating about extracurricular activities and “school-home” life alongside their academic timetables.  

“We’re interested in providing a whole-person education and technology has been an important part of our journey over the last five years,” says Henry. 

The SharePoint site that Cloud Design Box has created with the school acts as a central hub and offers information for anything a student or teacher may need for their daily life at the school.  

With a feed of updates and news, students can keep up to date with ongoing activities, such as sports, music lessons and school announcements.  

Meanwhile, staff have access to up-to-date information about what’s going on in the school and links to staff-only areas where they can find resources.  

“It’s great having one central place to go, and it links to all of our other systems, so everyone knows to go to SharePoint first to find what they’re looking for.” 

The home site offers personalised features, meaning when users log in, they get content tailored to them. For example, reminders, upcoming assignments and events.  

“SharePoint really joins all the facets of daily life in the school,” Henry adds.

Onboarding an independent boarding school to Microsoft 365

Head of Digital Learning at a leading independent boarding school reveals 5 ways in which they have successfully onboarded staff and students to Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint.

Learn more →

The benefits of subject sites in SharePoint.  

Centralised subject sites place resources for one subject into easy-to-access areas for students and staff. Driven by MIS data, the subject sites have a document library for each year group.  

In the podcast, Henry shares how this setup has been beneficial for the school:  

“They’re fantastic as it allows teachers to quickly share large numbers of files with students without sending emails or things getting lost in their inboxes,” he explains. 

“One example is GCSE past papers that we uploaded for Year 11 only. It’s great because we know that year group will need to have access to that when the time comes, but it’s separate from the other year groups.” 

Creating long-term resources in OneNote. 

OneNote has been particularly useful in Henry’s school, allowing teachers to collaborate, share and build on each other learning resources.  

“Most of our teachers use Class Notebook, which is attached to the corresponding Class Team so everything is in one place for the student,” Henry describes. 

“We’ve got a Biology team just for the teachers of the subject and any Notebook pages we create for our classes we put them back into the shared OneNote so they can be reused and built upon.”  

A vision for the future. 

With technology and digital learning continuously developing, Henry wishes to delve further to look at the “more interesting” features of Teams and Microsoft 365.

Henry is particularly interested in AI technology and mentions that he can already see how this is going to be beneficial in education:

“PowerPoint offers an automated caption feature. Captions are time-consuming and may not be something teachers include in their presentations. But this new feature can add captions instantly,” he says.

With Year 9, he is keen to incorporate technology into each subject, showing students the digital skills they’ll be expected to have in their future workplaces. He wants this initiative to spread further through each year group, including Sixth Form, who will need these skills as they enter the workplace or higher education.

If you want to know more about Cloud Design Box and how we can help your school or MAT harness the full power of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, book a free demo today.  

Catch up on all the episodes of our podcast on YouTube, Spotify or on our website.