Tag Archives: Academies

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.

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

Wilberforce Sixth Form College Awarded Microsoft Showcase College Status (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 14)

Cloud Design Box has been working with Wilberforce College, a further education Sixth Form College in Hull, to support them in moving to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, through training and strategy sessions, as well as software set up and implementation.

Assistant Principal at Wilberforce College Jonathan Butler recently joined us on a webinar to discuss best practices in Microsoft Teams and how working with Cloud Design Box has helped the school achieve their goals with cloud-based learning.




Listen on Spotify

“If you’re thinking about moving over to Teams, you must think about how you’re going to share and store files – it should be your priority. If you don’t have a backend storage system – like SharePoint – linked with Teams, things can become a little bit messy, especially when you enter a new school year,” Jonathan explains.

“Cloud Design Box has helped us to set up Teams and SharePoint in a way that will serve us year after year, with long-term resources that can be reused for each new class you teach.”

The College was crowned a DfE EdTech Demonstrator School and are now part of the network of schools and colleges who have shown they can use technology effectively and have the capacity to help other education organisations do the same.

“We had a head start in moving across to Teams and SharePoint thanks to the long-term strategy and technology rollout implemented by Tony and the rest of team.”

Wilberforce College has witnessed a massive increase in staff engagement and enthusiasm for Microsoft 365.

“After taking part in the informative training sessions with Lloyd at Cloud Design Box, our staff have been inspired to learn more and look deeper into how we can use Teams better in the school. Around 80% of our teaching staff took it upon themselves to seek further training from Microsoft,” Jonathan adds.

“The enthusiasm and uptake of the product sort of snowballed from there. We have now been awarded Microsoft Showcase College status and are the only sixth form in the UK to be awarded this accolade.”

CPD Training Graph

Throughout the pandemic, Teams and SharePoint has transformed the way teachers and school staff collaborate at Wilberforce:

“It’s great to see so many members of staff recording quick training videos and sharing them with colleagues. At the tap of a button, this valuable content can be shared to all staff, or specific groups. For example, we recently had a teacher share a video on immersive reader,” he tells us.

“Teachers are no longer working in isolation – they’re sharing their resources, skills and knowledge. Even when the pandemic is over, we must make sure this kind of collaboration continues.”

Here’s a video featuring the staff and students at Wilberforce College, talking about how Microsoft 365 has transformed learning.



Webinar: Safeguarding in Microsoft Class Teams with Senso Cloud

Cloud Design Box is partnering with Senso Cloud to deliver a free live workshop on Safeguarding in Microsoft Class Teams. Sign-up for free here.

Senso Cloud

Senso Cloud provides real-time monitoring of Teams chat using AI and we are working with them to help our customers safeguard online learning in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.

With the rapid increase of remote learning during the last year, teachers and school staff have raised concerns about monitoring activity within Class Teams, for example when students are working in breakout rooms and have the ability to chat via Teams.

“Senso has provided us with an excellent and ever-evolving safeguarding solution for some time now, enabling us to monitor effectively what pupils do on our devices, with the exponential increase in remote learning through Microsoft Teams,” says Alan Hughes of Holgate Primary School.

In this informative, interactive session, teachers and school staff will discover more about how we can help them safeguard their school and students while using Microsoft Teams to communicate, collaborate and learn.

Senso Cloud enables teachers to monitor Teams, including the Private Chat feature, to give schools confidence and improve student wellbeing.

“With Senso monitoring, we’re able to make full use of Teams, knowing that we can monitor Chat for safeguarding concerns. It’s easy to use and we’re aware of any incidents with students within a few seconds,” says James Durrant of Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College.

Teams Safeguarding with Senso Cloud takes place on Tuesday 23 March at 11am. Book your free place now.

Getting Started with Rubrics in Microsoft Teams Assignments

Rubrics are a powerful tool used to assess students’ work. The criterion helps students to have a concrete understanding and visualisation of what they need to do to achieve a particular score. Each criterion also includes a gradation scale of quality.

Rubric in Teams

Microsoft Teams for education includes rubric based grading. They can be created and reused across Teams making it a powerful time saving tool for teachers while at the same time helping students understand how to succeed in the assignment.



When setting assignments there is a “Add Rubric” option on the “New assignment” form.

Add Rubric

On the choose a rubric form, you can search for a rubric that has already been created or create a brand new one. In this post I go through how to create a new one by selecting the “new rubric” option.

choose a rubric form

Give the new rubric a name and turn on “points” so that we can assign scores to each piece of criteria.

New Rubric form

Enter your criteria, you can add more lines by pressing the plus button. You can also adjust the grading balance for each element. Teams will turn the points into an overall percentage when marking based on the balance given to each criterion.

When you have finished creating your rubric, set the assignment for the students.

When the students have completed the assignment, go to review the work and open the student’s homework. In addition to the comment and grade, you can now select the rubric.

marking work

This will show the criteria and you can select which has been met. The student work will be automatically marked based on the grade balance set in the rubric.

marking with rubric

This is what the student will see when you have graded their work with the rubric.

Rubric for students pupils

It’s another fantastic update to Microsoft Teams for education. There is still more to come this summer including Microsoft Forms integration with self-marking quizzes. We will bring you news and guides on how to use that as soon as it is released!

How to Get Everyone in Your School Confidently Using Microsoft Teams – A Guide to Long-Term User Adoption for Schools

The main challenge schools, academies and multi academy trusts face when rolling out a new technology or platform is user adoption.

Typically, a core group of tech-savvy teachers and staff embrace the new technology, while others are left behind.

This results in various, separate solutions being used within the school, with learning resources scattered across different places and servers and – ultimately – your school not making the most of the technology it has invested in.

But the key reason for this isn’t usually the platform or technology itself. Instead, it’s a lack of a clear, long-term plan and strategy.

Switching to a brand-new technology isn’t easy; it’s a significant change for all involved. But we must make sure that we bring everyone along together on the journey to ensure higher user adoption and avoid leaving anyone behind.

Of course, a further problem has also been born in 2020. Covid-19.



Many schools were forced to adopt tools like Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for short-term gains due to school closures and remote teaching.

While this placed a plaster over the problem and gave students the short-term support they needed to learn from home temporarily, the rushed approach didn’t take into consideration the potential long-term impact of the technology.

We now need to take a step back and think about a long-term strategy so that the technology you’ve invested in serves your staff and students for years to come.

Moving to the cloud isn’t brand new for 2020. Schools have been adopting Teams and SharePoint to reap the benefits of centralised resources, lower server costs and enhanced learning for years.

Whether you already have Teams and SharePoint, or if you’re new to cloud-based learning, now is the time to implement a long-term strategy for your new technology. And here’s how you can do that.

  • Communicate your vision to the school.
  • Give key people ownership over the project.
  • Set a long-term plan.
  • Set milestones and key dates.
  • Deliver hands-on training.
  • Measure your success and resolve issues.
  • Adjust, adapt and adopt.

The User Adoption Journey

Communicate your vision to the school.

Introduce the new technology to your staff to let them know what your vision is and what the new way of working will look like.

It’s crucial to outline your key reasons for switching to the new technology by explaining clearly the benefits to the school, to staff and to students. Weaving it into your school ethos and culture further strengthens your argument and helps to get more people on board with the idea.

Three things to keep in mind when communicating your vision:

  • What does the new reality look like?
  • What are the benefits to the school?
  • How does this fit in with the school ethos and culture?

Here’s an example of how a school has tied in their new technology with their school ethos:

School Vision

Give key people ownership over the project.

Select a group of champions who work with you on the project to help with the planning stage and drive user adoption within their department.

This stage is important because having representatives from each area of the school not only enables them to have a sense of ownership over the product but also encourages other staff members to use the technology as it rolls out.

A typical project team might look like this:

Project Team:

  • Curriculum representatives for Teaching and Learning.
  • MIS Manager.
  • Head of Digital Strategy.
  • IT Support Team.

What do they do:

  • Plan and own product.
  • Showcase benefits to staff.
  • Provide training support.

Department Champions:

  • Curriculum Lead from each department.

What do they do:

  • Drive usage in their departments.
  • Showcase benefits.
  • Provide cascaded training.

Set a long-term plan.

The planning stages are vital to save time, money and ensure the new technology works well for everyone who will be using it.

Use spreadsheets to map out what you need the software to do for your school.

For SharePoint, a central space is essential to avoid unnecessary duplication of work and files, scattered resources and information siloes.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of everyone creating their own sites, with no central governance, and we’ve found this has been a common problem for schools who were compelled to rush adoption as a response to coronavirus.

If this sounds like you, don’t panic. Now is your chance to get everything in order and avoid more work in the future.

The key concept to keep in mind when planning is to think about the long term and how you can scale up your use of this technology year after year.

Here is an example of how a simple plan for SharePoint for schools might look like:

SharePoint home page.

Whether you’re a member of staff or a student, you can access published news and information about the school here.

Communication sites.

Sites for publishing information to large groups of people. Content is there to be consumed, rather than co-authored – for example, staff briefings, library services and policy documents.

Non-curriculum teams.

Secure areas only accessible to small groups of people who need access. For example, finance and administration .

It’s essential to keep this a flat, simple structure that is easy to scale up.

Subject sites.

All of your long-term resources are stored here. It’s a central place that has resources stored so they can be used year after year.

There’s a tendency to use Class Teams for this, which works for one academic year, but as soon as that ends, teachers need to duplicate all the content to another Class Team.

Storing all resources in SharePoint not only reduces the duplication of work, but also unlocks further opportunities. Departments can share resources, co-author documents and Heads of Departments can check the quality of the learning resources.

Teams.

Used for collaborating and communicating with other people. For example, department groups, the finance team and Class Teams.

One crucial thing to remember is you don’t have to get it right first time. It’s a process, and by listening to feedback, you’re able to build a solution that works for everyone in your school.

SharePoint education megamenu

Set milestones and key dates.

User adoption doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no quick fix, and it’s an ongoing process.

Break up your long-term plan into milestones, helping users have something to aim for, as well as to celebrate progress.

For example, it could be that you set your file servers to read-only by a specific date, allowing staff to have a deadline for when they need to move their resources to the cloud.

Three things to remember when setting milestones:

  • Be realistic – it’s not going to happen overnight.
  • Be flexible – milestones can be pushed back or brought forward, depending on your school and staff.
  • Get feedback – listen to your users and adapt your approach.

Deliver hands-on training.

Support staff by delivering quality, hands-on training.

Avoid one huge webinar presentation and get people involved using the software.

Deliver training to small groups, not everyone at once. Think about how you’d teach a lesson to students.

Split up teaching and non-teaching staff to tailor the sessions as much as possible to the audience. Teaching staff need to know about some features that non-teaching staff won’t use – for example, Assignments in Teams.

Grouping by ability helps to make sure no one gets left behind, and you’re not training staff on tools and features they’re already confident using.

Three things to keep in mind when delivering training:

  • Don’t train once and stop there, refreshers might be needed.
  • Be open to feedback and adapt your process.
  • Do your students need training too?

If you’re stuck on where to get started with training, we have some free training videos that are specifically geared towards schools.

Measure your success and resolve issues.

Evaluate your progress and measure user adoption as you move through your plan.

You can do this by getting feedback from staff and regularly talking to your champions to spot any barriers and challenges users are facing.

Microsoft Forms is a great way to do this. You can create a quick survey to see what areas you need to improve on. And, with Microsoft Teams , you can see who is using the software and – more crucially – who isn’t.

Three areas to monitor when you measure user adoption:

  • The key challenges people are facing.
  • The features that aren’t being used by staff.
  • The staff/departments who aren’t using the software.

At Cloud Design Box, we have our own analytic dashboard to help keep track of teacher user adoption with Teams assignments.

Cloud Design Box Teams Insights

Adjust, adapt and adopt.

Once you have collected feedback and data showing your user adoption progress, it’s essential to adjust and adapt your process to suit your school’s needs.

This is different for every school, but for example, it might be that you need to adjust training to suit the ability of your staff, or, alternatively, focus on a specific area where a large percentage of staff are struggling.

Three keys things to keep in mind when adjusting your process:

  • Be realistic.
  • Don’t be afraid to go back.
  • Keep checking user adoption and adapt accordingly.

User Adoption Cycle

By staying realistic, setting clear goals and adjusting your process, you’ll be able to get everyone on board with your new technology.

Do you need help with user adoption or a Teams solution that helps save teacher time? Contact us for a chat:

Email: info@clouddesignbox.co.uk
Website: https://www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/contact
Telephone: 01482 688890

Office 365 User Adoption Episode 11: Supporting Students with SEN and EAL with Office 365

In this podcast, we spoke with James Emmet, Network Manager at Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire about how they use features in Office 365 to support students with Special Education Needs (SEN) and English as an Additional Language (EAL).




Listen on Spotify

“We have a high number of students who are EAL, SEN, dyslexic and have low reading ages. I passionately believe that – when used in the right way – ICT is one of the most crucial tools to help these students with their learning,” James tells us.

“Our school’s main intake starts from Year 9, so it’s not long after they start before, we have to start prepping them for their GCSEs. Office 365 and key tools like Immersive Reader are essential for helping these students to learn.”

Immersive Reader is a free tool built into many of the Microsoft Products, including Microsoft Word.

“Using Immersive Reader, students can change the style and appearance of the text to help with reading comprehension,” James explains.

“For example, you can change the font, text size, text spacing and even create a virtual coloured overlay.”

Meanwhile, Picture Dictionary, the Translate tool and Read Aloud are particularly handy for supporting EAL students.

Picture Dictionary allows students to select a word they may not understand and view an explainer image, while Read Aloud turns the text on the page into speech for the student to listen to.

Both of these, combined with the Translate tool, are invaluable when it comes to improving reading comprehension in the classroom.

“We have found that Immersive Reader is being used by all of our students, not only those with EAL and SEN. In fact, one of our GCSE students who is predicted a level 7 in English regularly uses Immersive Reader to break down texts and closely analyse them,” James adds.

Immersive Reader also enables students to highlight word types, such as nouns and verbs, as well as break sentences down into syllables, which both students and their teachers have found useful for English and language-focused subjects.

“Because Immersive Reader is already built into many of the Microsoft products, we have not had to spend any extra time rolling it out into classrooms,” he tells us.

“It’s really taken off in our school. For example, we demonstrated the tool to one student and by the next lesson, the rest of their class were using it.”

The great thing about Office 365 and Immersive Reader is that it works on any connected device. Of course, this capability is more important than ever before as we see many children learning from home.

“We love the fact that Office 365 can be accessed via multiple devices and actively encourage our students to use their own devices or one from our bank of iPads. It gives their learning an extra boost.”

To find out more about Office 365 for Education, get in touch with a member of our team today.

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.

Teams for Education summer 2019 updates

Microsoft Teams has had a makeover with some new UI and feature changes this summer. In the video below, we go through these changes and what it means for teachers and students using Teams in the classroom.



Tiles

A new tiled interface helps you to visualise your classes in a more friendly view. Don’t worry if you like the list view, you can always switch back to it at any time.

Teams Tiles

Moving Class Notebook Content

You can now take your Class Notebook content library and teacher only sections with you. When creating your new Class Notebook, you will have the option to import from previous Class Notebooks.

Class Notebook

Assignments Interface

Assignments are easier to view with the new grouped view. Late assignments are marked red.

Assignments

There are more updates coming soon too. You can check these out on the Teams Education blog.

Adding Announcements in Microsoft Teams for Education

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!