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Office 365 User Adoption Series: Thomas Deacon Education Trust

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.

Setting Assignments in Microsoft Teams for Education

Homework has many benefits for students including learning how to work independently, staying organised and taking responsibility for their part in the educational process. It also gives them a chance to review the lesson and go over the material again.

Assignments give teachers the ability to track student progress and to see if the student understands the lesson content.

Microsoft’s Office 365 now provides another educational tool in their arsenal of productivity apps. Teams is a collaboration tool for your classes with the ability to have discussion threads, document sharing, class notebooks (see my previous post) and assignments.

In this post I’m going to focus on the assignment aspect of teams. You can follow the video guide or the blog post below, I hope this helps you get the most out of Microsoft Teams!



How to view assignments for your class

Inside your class, click on the “Assignments” tab to view a timeline of all the set assignments for this group.

Assignments

You can select either a horizontal or vertical timeline view of the assignments using the view selector (highlighted yellow below).

Microsoft Teams

How to create a new assignment

To start setting work for students, click the “New assignment” button.

New Microsoft Teams Assignment

You are then prompted to enter the details of the new assignment

Fill in assignment details Microsoft Teams

  • Assign to: Select which classes to assign to (you can set it to more than one of your classes here!)
  • Title: This is the title of the assignment.
  • Instructions: Include a description here to help the student complete the assignment.
  • Due date and time: When the assignment becomes late (you have the option to allow late hand-in below)
  • Late turn-in allowed: If this is enabled, students can still hand-in work after the due date. This is required if you are using class notebook pages.
  • Points: Turn this on to allow a mark allocation. Currently these are only available as a number score.

Documents can be added from OneDrive, your computer or from the OneNote Class Notebook. We are hopeful that SharePoint and other class teams will be added to this soon! There are two options for attaching these resources.

Attach reference materials

These documents are for the student to view as part of the assignment. You might include a PowerPoint, links to useful websites, etc.

Specify what students will turn in

Documents uploaded in this section can be edited by the student and submitted back as part of the assignment. This is particularly useful for things like worksheets.

When you have finished the assignment, you can either save it as a draft or assign it to the class. As soon as this is assigned to the class, it will appear in their assignment timeline and they will get a notification on their team mobile and desktop apps.

Assign to students button

How to review completed assignments

Use the review button to bring up the assignment timeline and assignment submissions.

review assignments

Select the relevant assignment from the timeline to show the student work.

Mark assignments

Each student has:

  • Student work: Links to files that the student has returned.
  • Date turned in: The date and time that the student submitted their assignment.
  • Feedback: Some written feedback for the student.
  • Points: If you have chosen to enable this in your assignment, you can give the student a grade.

Students will not be able to see your feedback or grade until the “Post” button is clicked.

Post Grades and Marks

Click the “Export to Excel” button to download a spreadsheet of the assignments.

Export to Excel from MS Teams
Grade export from Microsoft Teams

The grades spreadsheet shows all the assignments set to this class over the school year. It optionally shows grades, if enabled per assignment. No more manual marksheets! You could use this data to import or fill in MIS marksheets quicker.

Mobile Apps

One of the best ways to engage with students both inside and outside of school using Teams is to encourage them to use the mobile app. Students get instant notifications of any mentions, homework or graded assignments.

Microsoft Teams iOS and Android App

Teams automation and customisation

Teams is free for schools, check you have the license enabled to start using it. At Cloud Design Box, we can provision teams from MIS data and create an engaging and simple dashboard to access team data in SharePoint. We can also create student folders inside team sites and extend the experience even further, making it easier and increasing student and teacher engagement. You can find out more information on our website https://www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/.

Cloud Design Box Class Cards