Tag Archives: Digital Strategy

A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) worked with Cloud Design Box to build a centralised communication and collaboration portal in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams.  

In this webinar, we speak to Marcella O’Dowd (FET Quality Assurance at DDLETB) about the impact the portal is having on the way people work together in the organisation. 

“DDLETB has responsibility for a variety of education and training services, serving a population of nearly 800,000 people and delivering education and training to approximately 70,000 learners,” Marcella explains.

“We serve a network of around 650 schools, colleges, centres and outreach and community-based settings.” 



Previously, DDLETB had a Google site called Cloud ETB that housed all the Quality Assurance (QA) and curriculum documentation.

“The Google site was a repository to house material. All the FET (Further Education and Training) users had the same access password that offered two access choices: editor or reader,” she continues. 

“This presented a few problems. It wasn’t as secure as we wanted it to be, and we had one instance where someone changed the password so no one could get in to access what they needed.” 

We worked with DDLETB to create a new QA Hub in SharePoint.

Recognising that the team needed a solution that went beyond file storage, we built a portal that encourages communication and collaboration. 

The QA Hub home page. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

“The exciting thing about the new QA hub is that it provides tailored, secure access to everything our further education and training services need, whether that’s downloading a module descriptor, getting programme information, accessing policies and procedures, looking at assessment guidelines or checking when the next committee meetings are happening,” Marcella enthuses. 

“It’s no longer just a repository. It’s a communication and collaboration site. It’s a one-stop-shop for any QA needs.” 

One thing that was particularly important to DDLETB was strict version control of documents:

“To give an example, we currently need to make sure the DDLETB LGBTQA+ Handbook, policies and publications are available. This will be housed on the QA Hub, ready for people to access the most up-to-date version,” she confirms.

The QA Uploader. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

The QA Uploader is another way we’ve helped DDLETB save time and reduce the risk of human error. 

Previously, users would need to download a template from the Google site, fill it out and then send an email to the QA team.

“Our team would have to monitor the email account and check to see if new reports had been submitted. We would then have to re-upload them into the right folders, which was time-consuming and it was easy for emails to go astray when we were monitoring multiple inboxes.” 

“With the QA uploader, the users simply upload their reports directly to the QA Hub and choose the right report type and training centre. This sends us a notification and the file is already stored in the correct, secure folder that can only be accessed by people with the right permissions.” 

The QA Hub Calendar. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

Tedious admin tasks are also being reduced and communication improved by the QA Hub’s new calendar. 

There are a large number of FET and QA dates each year that are usually sent out as a list at the beginning of each academic year, with reminders sent out as dates and deadlines approach. 

“We get a barrage of emails asking when the next course approval or committee meeting is. Previously, we’d have to go to a document with a list of the dates and respond to each email,” Marcella reveals.

“The new calendar feature makes things so much easier. All we need to do is send a link to the calendar. We’ve already seen a huge difference in the number of emails coming in, as people are just going straight to the calendar to check for dates, rather than emailing.”

QA News section. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

DDLETB is using the SharePoint News feature to communicate key information and announcements:

“Having the ability to pop announcements into the QA News is great because everybody who needs to know gets an email about it. What’s more, they don’t need to flag emails or save them into folders because they know they can come to the QA Hub and find the information.”

QA News is also automatically displayed on the SharePoint home pages of FET and QA staff.

With such a big change in the way DDLETB works, there were some reservations about moving from the Google Cloud ETB site to Microsoft 365. However, the feedback so far has been extremely positive.

“With Cloud Design Box’s support, the new workflows make a lovely user experience that is easy for us to manage and support. We needed this to be user-friendly and intuitive and ‘intuitive’ is a word that has been mentioned by users when we’ve asked for feedback,” enthuses Marcella.

“We wanted our users to be no more than three clicks away from whatever they needed. Our users love the layout and the simplicity of it and love the fact they can do everything on one site.”

Our work with DDLETB is part of a wider initiative called the DEIS Connect Project. We have also worked with St Kevin’s Community College and Firhouse Community College (both part of DDLETB) to provision teaching and learning environments. 

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform, book a free demo today.  

Bridging the digital divide – how Cloud Design Box is supporting launch of the DEIS Connect Project

Cloud Design Box has been working with St Kevin’s Community College in Dublin to support them in becoming one of the first DEIS (Delivery Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools in Ireland.  

The DEIS Connect Project aims to bridge the digital divide in schools and provide digital devices for all learners. It was launched by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin on 4 February 2022.  

All 1st and 2nd year students have been given an iPad for use in school and at home, with laptops distributed to all 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th years at the college.  

The DEIS Connect initiative is a clear demonstration of DDLETB’s commitment to delivering a high-quality learning experience for all of our students and school teams,” states  Mr Adrian Flynn, Director of Schools at DDLETB.

We are very proud of St. Kevins CCs achievements in leading the path in embracing the best of what technology-enhanced learning has to offer. We look forward to further developing this initiative throughout the DDLETB DEIS network.”  

Our team have been working with the school and the DDLETB (Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board) to create an online solution for blended and remote learning at St Kevin’s. 

The hybrid approach to learning is one of the first of its kind in the country, allowing students to access learning resources at any time from their devices.  

Equipped with our Cloud Box platform and new skills from staff training sessions we’ve delivered, teachers at St Kevin’s can access everything they need to create and store quality online learning materials, provide feedback to students and track learner progress. 

 An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at St Kevin's Community College

“The Cloud Box platform is a fabulous benefit to our school. It’s a great place for staff to collaborate, and it links directly with our MIS data – which is invaluable to me as the ICT coordinator. Now that we have become a 1:1 school, with all students having access to devices, this software is completely invaluable to us – all the students’ Teams and content libraries created from the very start,” enthuses Mr John O’Callaghan, ICT Coordinator at St Kevin’s.  

“Cloud Design Box has been extremely approachable and easy to work with, from the initial build of the platform and while finetuning the software and going above and beyond to meet our needs.” 

St Kevin’s celebrated the launch of the project on Friday 4 February with a visit from Micheál Martin. 

Watch the launch day video here: 



 

 Mr Tony Barry, Principal of the school said on the launch day: 

“DEIS Connect will expand the capacity and opportunity for all learners to engage in the use of digital technology in both teaching and learning. It is an innovative solution to tackle the digital divide and to benefit learners,” 

“Every student coming to St Kevin’s now and into the future regardless of means will receive a digital device to assist them with learning – to prepare them for further education, college and to ensure they are workforce ready.”

Mr Tony Barry at St Kevins Community College DEIS Connect Project

The whole team at Cloud Design Box is thrilled to be involved in this project, which has provided an entire community with the tools they need to thrive in todays digital environment.  

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform, book a free demo today.  

 

Add students’ upcoming assignments to your school’s SharePoint home page

We have launched a new SharePoint web part exclusive for Cloud Design Box customers called My Assignments, allowing students to see all their current and upcoming assignments from their SharePoint homepage.  

Your school’s SharePoint homepage should give students a quick overview of what’s going on in the school community, and their classroom.  

Popular features of a school intranet include the latest news, an announcement from the headteacher and maybe even a word of the day/week to get students thinking.

But, a common question we get asked by our customers is Is there a way to show upcoming assignments on the homepage? and thats why we created this new web part.  

Schools can now add My Assignments to their SharePoint’  pages 

SharePoint home page with My Assignments web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The student can see what assignments are coming up, what class theyre for and when theyre due. The ones that are overdue are highlighted in red.  

Whats more, the student can click the assignment and be taken directly to that assignment page in Microsoft Teams.  

My Assignments SharePoint web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The My Assignments web part has been designed to make it easier for students to keep track of assignments and take more ownership of their learning.    



If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, you can edit your SharePoint home page and add the My Assignments web part to the page. Please get in touch with support if you need assistance with this.  

If youre not a customer but want to find out how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, get in touch with a member of our team right now 

Free webinar – A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT

We are hosting a free webinar for schools, academies and trusts focusing on how you can successfully adopt and roll out Microsoft Teams, without wasting time or money.  

One of the main challenges we see schools and MATs face when rolling out new technology is user adoption.  

There’s a central group of tech-savvy staff who pick up the new software straight away and begin using it in their classrooms, but there’s always a section that gets left behind without proper support or training.  

This results in a disjointed situation where learning resources are scattered across different platforms and servers and there is no cohesion in how students are being taught across their subjects.  

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of schools to move to Microsoft Teams or other digital platforms to provide blended learning to students whether they were working in the classroom or at home. This has only added to the number of schools that now lack a long-term strategy to get real tangible benefits that reach far beyond the pandemic.  

Event link: A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT. Sign up for free.

In an upcoming free webinar, we give you a tried-and-tested strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in your school or MAT. 

During the session, we’ll run through the key steps we take with schools across the UK to help them roll out Teams successfully; everything from communicating your initial vision and setting milestones to delivering training and measuring user adoption.  

I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think this is a revolutionary moment for us. Cloud Design Box is exceptionally good at working with a range of people. They can speak to the technical roles within the school, but what makes them stand out is their ability to explain it to teachers, like myself, who aren’t that technical.” – Chris Panting, Headteacher at The Ashcombe School. 

The webinar takes place on Microsoft Teams from 2pm – 3pm BST on 21 October 2021. 

Everyone is welcome to join in, whether you’re already using Microsoft Teams or considering rolling it out across your school or trust in the future.  

Sign up to A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT right now.

Free webinar – Getting parents engaged in homework using Teams

Finding the best way to engage and involve parents in their children’s learning can be a challenge for schools. That’s why Cloud Design Box has partnered with Haldor to deliver a homework app that is seamlessly connected to Microsoft Teams Assignments.  

We all know that there are real advantages to parents and guardians being engaged in their child’s learning, especially when it comes to supporting students with homework and assignments.  

In an upcoming webinar on 19 October 2021, we’ll be sharing our top tips on getting parents more engaged with homework by using the tools within Microsoft 365

Sign up for the free webinar on getting parents engaged in homework with Haldor Homework

We’ll also be introducing our new partners – Haldor – and their product Haldor Homework, which gives parents access to their child’s Microsoft Teams Assignments, directly from their computer, tablet or phone.  

Parents can easily keep track of when homework is set and due, see the status of the homework and view any feedback or assessment – everything they need to support blended learning.



The webinar will take place on Microsoft Teams from 11am – 12pm BST on 19 October 2021.  

Everyone is invited to join in, whether you’re a current Cloud Design Box customer or if you’re a school, academy or trust that is interested in achieving more with Microsoft Teams.  

To attend the free webinar on 19 October 2021 please register here 

Using the Reading Progress tool in Microsoft Teams for Language Learning

Microsoft have improved the student experience when it comes to seeing their feedback in reading progress. Take a look at the video to find out more.
The new Reading Progress function in Microsoft Teams Assignments works perfectly for language learning. In this step-by-step guide, we show you how you can use the Reading Progress tool to enhance language assignments and grading.  

Teams Assignments currently supports 37 different languages, so there’s plenty of choice for language teachers and their students. The tool allows students to be able to read a passage in a foreign language in an environment that is comfortable and familiar.  

Meanwhile, the teachers can easily pick up on mispronunciations, omissions and repetitions while tracking students’ progress in language learning. The time saved can be dedicated to coaching less confident speakers

In the video, Keith walks you through how to set up, complete and grade a language reading assignment in Microsoft Teams.  



We demonstrate how to set up a Reading Progress Assignment in Class Teams here

Below, we talk about how you can use it for language learning.

Setting up a Reading Progress Assignment for language learning.

  1. Go to your Class Team and head to the Assignments tab.
  2. Select Create to open a drop-down menu. Select Assignment to create a new assignment.
  3. In New Assignment, fill out the details of your assignment, such as the title and instructions. 
  4. Below the instructions section, select Add Resources. 
  5. Select Reading Progress to start setting up the assignment.  

Creating a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

6. First, upload your reading passage. As you can see from the demo, we have our text in both English and German – you can edit your text if you need to and even preview it to see what it’ll look like for the student.  

7. Once you have uploaded your passage, you can change several settings, including reading level, genre, the number of attempts your students will have to complete the task and pronunciation sensitivity. 

Setting up a reading assignment in Microsoft Teams

Pronunciation sensitivity can be set to Less sensitiveStandard (default) or More sensitive, depending on your preferences. This can also be changed after the assignment is completed and you’re reviewing the assignment (see below).  

Changing the Pronunciation sensitivity in Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

Teachers can toggle on and off Video Required to determine whether students need to record a video of themselves reading or simply submit audio. 

This is great for language learning as the teacher can see how confident the student is reading the passage.  

8. When you’re happy with the settings, select Attach to add Reading Progress to the Assignment.  

As with all Assignments, you can add further details before assigning them to students. For example, rubrics and points.  

9. Select Assign to assign to an entire class, group or individual students. 

Assigning a reading progress assignment to a student in Microsoft Teams

How a student can complete a language Reading Progress Assignment.  

Students can see the reading assignment in their Class Teams area.  

  1. Select View Assignment to open the task. There is an icon next to the reading passage they need to record.  

Opening a reading assignment in Class Teams

Note: The first time students use this, they must allow Microsoft to access their microphone, speakers and camera. A dialogue box will appear.  

2. Hit Start when ready to read. 

Completing a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

Note: Students can use Immersive Reader at this stage to change the way the text looks and assist their reading.  

Using immersive reader with reading progress in Microsoft Teams

3. Once the student has recorded their passage, they also have the option to Start Over, or select I’m finished when they’re done.  

When finished, they can return to the original assignment and select the Hand in button to hand it over to you. 

Handing in a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

How to grade a language Reading Progress Assignment.                                                   

  1. Head over to your Assignments tab and select the student you wish to review.  

This will take you to the Reading Progress dashboard – the passage is marked up, with words per minute and an accuracy level. We can also see the recording of the passage.  

Microsoft’s autodetect highlights and colour codes mispronunciations, repetitions, omissions, self-corrections and insertions. 

Grading a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

2. On the left-hand side, you can toggle on/off autodetect depending on your preferences.  

Below this, a slider for Pronunciation sensitivity can be adjusted.  

Teachers can watch/listen to the recording and manually mark up the passage, as well as jumping to specific words of the passage by selecting Jump to word. 

Feedback can be given in the box on the right-hand side of the dashboard.  

3. Select Return to give the feedback to the student. 

You can navigate to the next assignment from the dropdown menu.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, please contact a member of our team today.

 

How To Return Assignments To Students For Additional Changes and Revisions

Microsoft Teams has a new feature, allowing teachers to return assignments to students for additional revisions and changes. This feature is highly anticipated by teachers and solves a key problem that many schools have highlighted to us.

The problem:

Previously, students could go into their assignments and submit work, even when the work is missing or not completed the assignment to the correct level.

The assignment would appear to be “completed” to both parents and teachers until the teacher opened up the document for marking and realised the student hadn’t completed the work.

This presented multiple problems for schools – parents weren’t receiving accurate information in their weekly digests and teachers couldn’t undo the action so it skewed the data in the mark books.

A solution:

Microsoft has now introduced a feature that enables the teacher to reassign the work back to the student.

Here is a walkthrough of how you can reassign work back to your students for revision.





As you can see this student has not completed the assigned work, despite handing it in via Teams.

Microsoft Teams assignments saying No work attached.

Add a comment in the comment section. For example, “You have not submitted any work here and this is not acceptable, please attach your work. If you have any issues with completing the task, please speak to me.”

Comments box and marking area for teachers for assignments in Microsoft Teams

Instead of selecting Return, select the arrow and then click Return for revision to return the work to the student for revision.

A dropdown menu - one option is return, the other is return for revision

Here is what this looks like for the student. The assignment appears back into the Assignments tab and is marked Needs revision.

The student can click through, read your comments and attach their work for hand in.

A student's screen stating that their assignment needs more work

A student's screen with the details and feedback from a teacher

Once the student has handed their work back in, you are able to see that they have as the assignment is marked Turned in again in the Assignments tab.

The teacher's assignments tab in Microsoft Teams

Parents can see this activity with the Parent and Guardian Weekly Digest email sent weekly through Microsoft School Data Sync.

The Teams weekly digest for parents

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

 

 

 

 

New Microsoft Teams Update Brings More Benefits to Blended Learning Classrooms

A new Microsoft Teams update for summer 2021 brings a whole bunch of benefits for both students and teachers, helping schools deliver blended and hybrid learning efficiently and in an engaging way.  

We’ve rounded up our top features that you need to try out in your lessons.  

Here’s a quick summary of the update: 

  • Set group assignments. 
  • Return assignments to students for revision.  
  • Lock Teams meetings from additional attendees. 
  • Record classes automatically. 
  • Use a virtual laser pointer in PowerPoint. 
  • Lower all raised hands in Teams meetings. 
  • Immersive Reader for mobile.  
  • More features for Android users.  

Group assignments. 

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.  

Interested in this feature? We have created a short guide and step-by-step video for you on Group Assignments here.  




This feature is great for when you need a student to do extra work after you’ve provided feedback, or even if they’ve simply forgotten to attach a document to their assignment. 

From a student point of view, the assignment is visible in their “active work” list, and they can see the feedback you’ve initially provided.  

All you need to do is select More options next to Return when you’re reviewing a student assignment and then select Return for revision.  

Image: Microsoft

Improved features for hybrid teaching. 

Blended learning, hybrid classroom – whatever you’re calling it in your school – teaching students in school and providing support to those learning from home due to self-isolation can be challenging. 

Teams has brought out several features to improve both teacher and student experience.  

First up, there’s an auto-record setting you can now toggle on and off in your Meeting options as a teacher. Selecting Record automatically does exactly what it says on the tin and records your meeting automatically so that you don’t need to worry about forgetting to record when you start your class.  

Image: Microsoft

Note: You will need to change this per meeting, there isn’t yet a button for recording every meeting automatically.  

During Teams lessons, you can now create a virtual laser pointer when presenting with PowerPoint Live. Only the active “in control” presenter can make annotations – so you don’t need to worry about students becoming distracted and trying out the feature for themselves!  

Many have been using the Raised Hands feature in Teams to allow students to virtually notify the teacher when they want to ask a question. However, up until now, there has been no way for teachers to lower raised hands, and if a student forgets to lower their raised hand, it can be confusing.  

Teams has introduced the ability to lower all raised hands via the Participants pane.  

Better security features for student safety.  

Running lessons in Teams has always been secure, but Microsoft has introduced even more layers of security to ensure student and staff safety.  

Teachers can now lock a class or meeting from any additional attendees. This helps the class stay focused and avoid unnecessary disruption.  

You can find the Lock the meeting option in the Participants pane 

If you want to find out more about boosting security in your Teams lessons, check out this guide on dealing with unwanted guests in Class Teams 

Lock class meetings
Image: Microsoft

Enhanced mobile experience. 

Microsoft has been busy making some general improvements to the mobile experience of Teams.  

Great news! We know a lot of students have relied on their mobile devices to stay connected to their classmates and learning resources during the pandemic.  

In fact, according to the Children’s Commissioner, almost 10% of families in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. So naturally, many students have been using shared mobile devices to access their lessons and homework.  

Some important updates include a mobile version of Immersive Reader, which reads aloud posts and chat messages for users, and an easier-to-navigate Assignments tool.  

Find out how this school is using Immersive Reader to support SEN and EAL students

Assignments on mobile
Image: Microsoft

Teams is now also available on Android tablets and accessing files offline is also available on Android devices.  

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today. 

 

 

 

 

How To Create a Group Assignment in Class Teams

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.   

Below is a walk-through of how you can: 

  • Create a group assignment. 
  • Manually and randomly assign groups for assignments.  
  • Complete a group assignment (as a student). 
  • Grade a group assignment.  


Create a group assignment.  

In Assignments, select Create and then Assignment.  

As with any new assignment in Teams, you can enter a title, instructions, attach any documents the students require, add points and rubrics and set due dates.  

To assign the assignment to a group, go to the Assign to section and this will be currently set to the default All students. Select Group of students from the drop-down menu.  

Group Assignments in Teams 1 - Create a group assignment

You have two options – to manually or randomly assign groups for your assignment.  

Group Assignments in Teams 3 - Manually group students or randomly group students

Manually assign groups for assignments.  

Select Manually group students from the pop-up window and then click Create groups. 

This allows you to filter and manually add specific students to a group. 

You can also add a group name for this group of students.  

Once you’re happy with your first group, click Create. 

Group Assignments in Teams 4 - Manually assign students to a group assignment

You can then choose to add another manual group or randomly assign other groups.  

Tip: There is a countdown of how many students are left to be assigned to a group at the top of the group list.  

Randomly assign groups for assignments. 

Select Randomly assign groups from the pop-up window. 

Enter the number of groups you need and select Create groups 

Group Assignments in Teams 5 - Randomly assign students to a group assignment

You can then go in and add/remove students from groups and change the group names if necessary.  

Editing and deleting assignment groups in Teams.  

If you haven’t already set the assignment, you can edit and delete groups by selecting the pencil icon next to the group you wish to edit.  

From here, you can add or remove members and change the group name. You can also delete the group. 

Want to start over? You can recreate groups by selecting Recreate groups at the bottom of your list of groups.  

Group Assignments in Teams 6 - Recreate groups

Assigning a group assignment in Teams.  

Once you’re happy with your groups, click Done to head back to the main Assignments page and select Assign 

Note: Currently, there is no option to edit groups after an assignment is set. You would need to delete the assignment and reassign all the groups.  

Completing and submitting a group assignment as a student.  

The group project is visible in the students’ general channel – they should receive a notification.  

Group Assignments in Teams 7 - Group Assignment student view

Also, if the student clicks on Assignments, they are able to view the group assessment, see who else is in their group, and open/co-author the document with their classmates.  

Once the group work is complete, one of them can turn in the work on behalf of the whole group by selecting Turn in for group. 

Group Assignments in Teams 9 - Turn in a group assignment

Note: If they have forgotten to add something, students can undo the turn in and add further information, attachments and work. 

Reviewing a group assessment.  

Teachers can see which groups have handed in the assignment by viewing the assignment in the Assignments tab in Teams.  

Group Assignments in Teams 10 - Reviewing group assignments

You can choose to give the group an overall grade or grade students individually by selecting the three dots next to the selected group.  

From here, you can add feedback and give points as you would any other assignment. 

Group Assignments in Teams 11 - Grading group assignments

Click Return to return the work back to students for them to view your feedback or make amends. 

Head to the Grades tab to look at a class overview of who has handed in their group assignments.

Group Assignments in Teams 12 - Class overview of group assignments

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today.