In this video, I explore the new announcement feature in Microsoft Teams. It’s part of a big education release this summer, we will keep you posted on the latest developments!
Read more about how to setup and use rubrics in Microsoft Teams in our previous post.
There are options available in Microsoft Teams to export and import Rubric grading criteria. This is great news for educators, it will empower them to share rubrics with their department, school, trust or the rest of the world!
Exporting a Rubric
Find an assignment that you used with the rubric attached. Select the assignment and open the rubric.
Select the download as CSV option. This will download your rubric in a CSV formatted spreadsheet.
It might not seem much use in this format but follow the steps below to import it. Ideally the next steps should be followed by someone who doesn’t already have access to this rubric.
Importing a Rubric
Create a new assignment, add a rubric and select the import option.
Find the CSV and import it. Not only is the rubric available for use in this assignment, it will now appear in your rubric list for all future assignments that you set!
Class Notebook has a really nice feature which allows teachers to distribute pages to student sections so that they can work on their own copy of the page. Since we originally looked at this in a previous blog post, Microsoft Teams now supports setting assignments using Class Notebook pages too.
Essentially there are two ways to do the same thing, so which should you choose? We would recommend only using Class Notebook to distribute pages if the work is informal (like class work) and we would recommend setting the assignment through Teams if it’s going to be marked (homework, assignments, etc).
The reason for this is you can collect formal marks and comments in the assignment app that you just can’t do through Class Notebook.
To set an assignment using a Class Notebook page:
Create a new assignment and add the Class Notebook page as a resource. Students will be able to have their own copy of the page that you select.
Select a section to push the page into when the student completes it.
Complete the rest of the assignment form and publish it.
When reviewing student work, you will have the option to annotate the Class Notebook page in addition to adding formal feedback and scores. This gives you the best of both worlds. Simple annotation and feedback on the student work but also a place for formal marks and comments which will become part of an exportable marksheet.
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.”
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
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.
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.
“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.
At Cloud Design Box, we have created a free Google search box SPFx web part. It’s a very simple web part to add a Google search box to a modern SharePoint page which then opens up the results in a new tab. Maybe a nice web part for an intranet homepage?
You can download it here or even submit code to the project!
A big thanks to Lloyd for writing most of the code to get this to work and for sharing on GitHub! I’m sure we can develop this over time to make it even more useful.
There are web part properties to change the search results url, you can use your local Google search page. In addition to this you can change the default search text and search button text! Enjoy!
Smooth, frictionless user adoption can be tricky.
You’ve decided that Office 365 and SharePoint is right for you. But, there’s the small matter of convincing the rest of your team and getting everyone in your organisation on board.
We’re creating a series of podcasts focusing on real-life user adoption stories, with schools, academies and businesses just like yours.
Our aim is to share and encourage a community resource that will help others who may be struggling with user adoption.
The first episode of this podcast features Tony Phillips, Cloud Design Box Founder, Darren Hemming, our Operations Manager, and Martin Byford-Rew who is the Head of ICT Services at Thomas Deacon Education Trust.
Martin outlines the key challenges he faced when starting to move across to Office 365 and SharePoint, as well as giving some excellent actionable tips on how to roll out the suite across a school, academy or business.
“Our overall vision has been the same throughout the whole process – to move over to the cloud and get everyone to see the value in Office 365 and SharePoint,” Martin tells us.
“However, achieving this has been challenging and we’re still not 100% of the way there. I hope that my experience will help others avoid some of the pitfalls we have fallen down.”
Based in the East Midlands, Thomas Deacon Education Trust is a small but growing organisation with five schools and around 4,000 students. With experience using an on-premise SharePoint solution for several years in one of these schools, Martin has now begun gradually moving everyone over to the cloud. Here’s how he is achieving this:
1. Start at the top.
“We started user adoption from the very top – the board. This involved a very short, concise training session with board members to show them the basic building blocks of Office 365 and SharePoint,” Martin explains.
From there, the ICT team worked their way down the school structure, introducing the technology to each level of the school.
2. Take small, simple steps.
“It’s all about small, quick wins. Teach the ‘ABC’ steps of Office 365 and what you can do with it, instead of overwhelming people with the vast number of features that may not even be useful for them,” he continues.
Martin accomplished this by organising short, 10-minute sessions where he encouraged staff to log in, create and save a file and then share it with a colleague.
“When people see that they can create a document and not physically press save to save a file to OneDrive, they are willing to learn more. Everyone has a memory of the time when they forgot to press save on a document they’ve been working on.”
3. Know your audience.
“There’s no point in presenting a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Get to know how your staff work, get to know what their pain points are and offer a resolution from there,” Martin highlights.
“No matter how much training you give someone, if they don’t need to use a feature, they won’t use it.”
By tailoring your training to individuals or small groups of people with a similar job role, you can really get them to understand how the product can help them save time.
Finally, Martin gives some real-life examples of where he has rolled out Office 365 and SharePoint.
1. Parents evening feedback.
Previously, parents would fill out a paper slip, which would then have to be processed and sorted by admin staff. It was a slow process and many parents would forget to complete the forms.
Now, teachers approach parents with an iPad that has four or five questions on. It’s instant feedback and doesn’t require as much time from the admin team.
2. Friday quizzes.
A similar example of how Office 365 and SharePoint has transformed pupils’ learning experiences is with end-of-the-week quizzes.
Again, this was once a paper-based exercise that was time-consuming and unengaging.
Students now answer questions on an iPad or other device and can see their results straight away, as well as compare their progress to their fellow classmates. It gives them an opportunity to take control of their own learning, as well as providing the teacher with insight into how well their class understood the lesson.
Final, takeaway points from Martin on user adoption:
- Keep training short and concise.
- Leadership first and work down.
- Start simple.
- Solve problems.
- Tailor for audience.
- Transformation takes time.
It’s the update that schools have been waiting for. Today Microsoft announced parental access to Microsoft Teams assignments through a regular email digest. This update enables the school to emphasise the importance of homework and provide parents with all the information they need to fully support their children at home.
Below is a preview (real experience may differ) and details are still being released on how this will work
I expect that the teacher will need to enable this option in each class (so that parents don’t get empty updates or lack of content).
School Data Sync (SDS) will now support student contacts as a new CSV upload file. If you manage SDS yourself, this means there will be a new CSV to create and upload. Third party SDS sync providers will soon be able to support this. Parental contacts are optional so no need to rush and upload these. It might be worth waiting a few months to test this before rolling out to all classes and parents (it will give Microsoft time to fix any bugs) and it will give the school chance to cleanse parental data in the school MIS.
Update 26/02/2019: we are just waiting for Microsoft to complete the roll-out of this feature which should be in the next few weeks
Update 01/11/2019: This is finally live – sync your guardians using school data sync.
You can find out more about how we can enhance Office 365 so that it’s really easy for teachers and students to navigate and use. We also focus on user adoption by providing training needs analysis, onsite training workshops and tailored roll-out plans to increase user engagement and get your school off to a flying start. Visit the Cloud Design Box website to find out more.
Releasing organisational and team communication via SharePoint news articles is a powerful way to connect with colleagues. News articles in SharePoint appear aggregated on the SharePoint home page and get pushed out to the mobile app via notification. They render great in both experiences.
I’ve had several users ask for enhancements for SharePoint news, we always try to direct people to the SharePoint user voice page so they can share their thoughts with the community and Microsoft. The most popular requests I have had are:
- Target news stories at groups of people
- Add news from external sources
- Option to unpublish and delete news stories
Some good news below, some of these are resolved now or in the new year. Unpublish and delete news stories is still not available (from an intuitive interface – you can go to site pages via site contents). You can vote for it here
Many users have reported that they are happy with the editing interface. Using the same intuitive page editing experience as standard SharePoint pages, news articles are easy to adopt in any organisation.
In addition to creating news pages, users can now share links to external news stories. SharePoint intelligently extracts images and text from the external source, all the end user needs to do is provide a link to the external article.
Sharing external news will make users aware of an external article without the creator having to manually recreate or copy and paste the story.
Did you know that you can now save news articles to read later? I’ve not had this request from any end-users but seems useful if you find an article that is interesting, but you are in a rush. This can be done via the mobile app by clicking the bookmark icon or from the SharePoint home page.
There are some exciting updates coming to SharePoint news in 2019. When I speak to people, I often get asked about targeting news stories to groups of people. My response is that the news article should be added to a SharePoint site which only the correct users have access to. This is a bit of a workaround but not for long! Audience targeting based on groups or individuals is coming early next year to make news even more powerful. It will help owners target news while having a central repository for news.
News comments have not been particularly useful as users often don’t return to see new comments. This is set to improve too over the coming months. Users will be able to use @ to mention other people in the organisation. With intelligent auto-complete, it will really be easy to mention other people and get them involved in the conversation. Mentions will automatically trigger notifications or reminder emails, meaning that comments are not missed again.
We will provide some video tutorials as soon as the new functionality is available!
If you have your own ideas to improve SharePoint news, we would like to hear from you. Comment below and add your ideas to the SharePoint user voice page. With your feedback, Microsoft can see what end-users really want.