Tag Archives: Education

How To Make Your SharePoint Sites Look Great

Creating a visually appealing SharePoint site is vital if you want people to engage with it regularly. But you don’t need to spend hours designing and curating your sites for them to look good.

We’ve created a video to show you that it’s possible to create a professional and captivating SharePoint site in under 20 minutes. By sticking to our top tips, you can make sure your organisation’s SharePoint sites look clean and well-designed while remaining practical and informative.



Get inspired by the SharePoint look book.

Microsoft has put together a free resource filled with inspiration for SharePoint sites, whether you need pages for news, announcements, resources or training.

The beauty of the look book is that if you see a site you like, you can add it to your SharePoint as a starting point.

SharePoint look book

Use high-quality images.

Inject life into your SharePoint site by using eye-catching imagery.

There are plenty of free and high-quality image resources out there, so you don’t necessarily need to spend money on bringing a photographer in to take team photos.

The SharePoint look book is a great place to download professional photos, and SharePoint itself has an image library filled with all types of pictures to suit your needs.

By filling your site engaging imagery, you’re already halfway there to making it look good.

SharePoint Design

Stick to a colour scheme.

Once you start playing with colour in SharePoint, you can truly make a site your own. Use your brand colours and stick to a simple colour palette of around 2-4 shades to keep everything looking consistent and professional.

You could go one step further and bear this colour scheme in mind when selecting images for the site.

Section variety.

When you have lots of content to showcase, important messages can easily get lost in the noise.

Make sure you break up your content into logical sections and ensure these sections look distinctive from each other.

Again, use colours to differentiate each section. As Tony shows in the video demonstration, you can make some areas pop with a brighter hue, followed by a simple muted tone for the next section.

Be sure to use different layouts for each section and mix it up with your column numbers and sizes.

SharePoint sections

Think about spacing.

Avoid cramming your pages full of content and instead separate out elements with spacers. A bonus tip to ensure your spacing is consistent throughout is to stick to a specific spacer size, for example, 20 pixels.

SharePoint spacing

Toggle Between Published and Edit Mode.

When editing a SharePoint site, it’s easy to get fixated on how it looks in Edit mode rather than what it will look like when finally published.

Switch between Published and Edit mode to give yourself a chance to step back and look at it through the eyes of your users.

Engaging content.

It’s all well and good creating an attractive SharePoint site, but you also need to ensure the content is relevant, engaging and adding value to your end-users if you want them to use the site consistently.

Think creatively and don’t be afraid to add some fun, light-hearted content in there.

As you can see from our demo video, Tony uses a Word of the Day web part and also a short message from the CEO. It’s about finding the balance between this type of content and your more serious stuff, like policies and company updates.

Engaging Content

Additionally, make sure your SharePoint site isn’t static is by adding the News web part that links in and pulls content from your company news pages so your readers will always have the latest articles and updates at their fingertips.

If you have any questions about creating SharePoint sites for your organisation, please get in touch with a member of our team right now.

Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams for Education

With breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams, the teacher can split the class into groups to work on shared tasks, projects, or even competitive challenges. Breakout rooms are private so students can have some one-on-one help from the teacher. As a teacher, you can jump into rooms to see how everyone is doing, give clarification or be help as required.

We have created a quick video guide below explaining how to setup and use the breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams.



Create some breakout rooms.

Create breakout rooms (only currently available in the desktop app) by selecting the new breakout room button.

breakout room button in teams

If students are already in the meeting, you can automatically populate rooms or choose the manual option to do it later.

Create new breakout rooms

Assign students to the breakout room.

Once students have joined the meeting, you can then assign them to breakout rooms by selecting the students and then clicking “Assign” before choosing a room.

Assign student to breakout room

Open a breakout room.

To send the student into a breakout room, you must first open the room. This can be done by selecting the menu on the room and clicking “Open Room”.

Open breakout room

Once the breakout room has been opened, students will automatically be moved into the room after 10 seconds.

Join a breakout room.

As a meeting organiser, you can jump into any of the breakout rooms. You may wish to do this to ensure students are on track and to answer any questions they have. To join a breakout room, select the menu next to the room and click “Join room”.

Join breakout room

To return to the main meeting, click the “Return” button.
Return to main meeting

Close breakout room.

When you are ready for students to finish working in their groups, you can close the breakout room and students will automatically join the main meeting again. You may wish to do this towards the end of the lesson so groups can share their findings with the rest of the class. To close a breakout room, select the menu next to the room and click “Close room”.

close breakout room

Reduce Your Workload and Deliver Outstanding Home Learning With These Free Webinars

Cloud Design Box is hosting five free virtual events in December and January, especially designed for teachers to help them make the most of Microsoft Teams and deliver outstanding learning to their students.

As Microsoft Global Education Training Partners with CPD-certified courses, we’re delighted to be partnering with two leading technology providers, who specialise in education – Novus and RivaNET.

Novus provides IT services to a wide range of schools, academies and multi-academy trusts, giving them access to market-leading technical services that are proven, dependable and reliable.

Meanwhile, RivaNET specialises in delivering enterprise-grade IT systems to UK independent schools and colleges, enabling them to deliver quality, innovation and excellence.

Below is a description of each event and how you can sign up for free.

Tailored to Secondary Schools and Academies

Best Practices with Microsoft Teams – Tuesday 1 December 2020 1pm-2pm

Delivered in partnership with Novus, our first event has been specially-designed around overworked teachers who are struggling with Teams.

Learn how to eliminate additional work by collaborating on resources in a centralised location.

Department leaders learn how they can free up their staff’s time by using these tried-and-tested best practices.

Centralising Resources and Reducing Workload using Microsoft Teams – Tuesday 19 January 2021 – 2pm-3pm

Focusing on how department leaders can centralise resources in one, accessible location, this session is perfect for those who want to learn more about collaborating in Teams.

The Novus and Cloud Design Box training team guide you through how to best centralise your resources in Teams in a way that reduces teacher workload.

Planning Long Term User Adoption Strategy for Microsoft Teams in Schools and MATs (Multi Academy Trusts) – Tuesday 19 January 2021 – 3pm-4pm

When adopting any new technology, it’s crucial to bring everyone along on the journey with you – not just the tech-savvy members of staff.

Teams is no different. In this session, Novus and the Cloud Design Box training team walk you through how to plan for long-term success with Teams, without leaving anyone behind.

Tailored to Independent Schools

Introduction to Microsoft Teams powered by Cloud Design Box and RivaNET – Thursday 3 December 2020 10am-11am

Blended learning has played a crucial part in providing students with uninterrupted learning this year. The blended approach also provides an effective way of reinforcing face-to-face learning with online resources and interaction.

In this session, discover how to best use Teams to support home learning confidently.

Save time and get more out of Microsoft Teams powered by Cloud Design Box and RivaNET – Thursday 14 January 2021 – 3pm-4pm

For many schools, moving to Teams has been an incredible culture change and also increased the workload of teachers.

This session demonstrates how you can save time and avoid duplicating work when creating quality online resources that can be re-used year after year.

If you sign-up but cannot attend, they will send you a video recording of the session. Feel free to share these links, anyone can sign-up.

Cloud Design Box solutions

In addition to the free events, we have provided some information below about the benefits and features Cloud Design Box add into Teams and SharePoint. If you would like any further information or would like to arrange a demo, visit the website https://www.clouddesignbox.co.uk.

Saving time for teachers

Central Resource areas help teachers reuse department resources from within each class and assignment.

A clear long-term strategy

Our program of rollout, training and follow up provides the school with a long-term strategy to succeed with Microsoft Teams.

Building confidence with new technology

Interactive online CPD certified courses for small groups of staff with a dedicated trainer so staff can gain confidence and embrace a new way of working. Creating and sharing quality resources in the cloud is no longer exclusive to tech-savvy teachers.

Easy-to-use

A global personalised menu for easy clear navigation into Teams and sites, even for beginners.

easy to use

Saving costs for schools

Large long-term savings when refreshing hardware and licensing. Potential to replace other third-party software packages into a single system.

Work with your current Teams or build you new ones

Already have Teams?

If you already have Teams and Microsoft School Data sync through another provider, we can integrate with that data directly without additional MIS integration causing no disruption.

Don’t already have Class Teams?

We can integrate with most UK MIS providers to sync class team membership using Microsoft school data sync.

Features in more detail

Replace school network drives

Create long-term storage areas in Teams and SharePoint for non-curricular shares currently on the school network. Saving costs and getting all the benefits of moving to the cloud.

Staff subject analytics

Ensure no one is left behind using the staff assignment analytic tool. Department leaders can track how often each department is setting assignments.

Staff Subject Analytics

Keep track of departments

Heads of department can easily keep track of the quality of resources being used in classes using centralised resource areas.

Staff department team

One version of the truth

Resources are centralised to avoid duplication of work. No need to upload resources for every class team you teach each academic year!

Students can drop off work

Each student in the class has an individual private folder and the class teacher can provide regular feedback on live documents.

Student Teams drop off folder

Departmental meetings and chat

A place for departments to meet online and share best practices.

Publish resources

A SharePoint intranet to help you publish resources such as policies and news throughout the whole school.

SharePoint intranet

Manage your own Teams

We provide a self-service tool to create teams and sites.

Contact us for a chat:

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

How to Download a Meeting Attendance Report in Microsoft Teams

As a teacher it’s important to measure engagement of students that are home learning. Microsoft Teams has given us a quick and easy tool to enable us to do this. 

In this post we look at how to download an attendance report of an online lesson. 



Once the participants of your Teams meeting have left and before you exit the meeting window you can view and download the meeting attendance report by following the steps below.

From the Meeting Control Panel select the Show Participants button.

Show participants panel

Click on the menu (three dots) in the people panel.

menu button

Select “Download attendance list” from the menu.

download attendance list

The CSV file will download.

CSV download

Once the spreadsheet has opened you will be able to view the names of the meeting participants. The “User Action” column displays when the participants have joined and left the meeting with the “Timestamp” column displaying the date and time the action occurred.

attendance report in Microsoft teams

Using this report can help to drive better attendance and engagement of remote lessons thus empowering teachers to achieve better results for their students.

Need help getting good user adoption in your school or MAT? Visit our website to see if we can help you!

Class Team Cheat Sheet for Teachers

Are you new to Teams or not quite sure about the right places to do things?

We have created a simple overview below for some of your key educator actions!

Class Teams Cheat Sheet

1. Posts

Have group discussions, video calls and praise students. Great for communicating with your class.

2. Files

Individual student work folders for any work that requires constant feedback between student and teacher throughout the academic year (e.g. class work or coursework).

3. Class Notebook

A student exercise book. Each student has their own section and can create pages with content (just like a real-life exercise book). The teacher can see all students section and can virtually stick their head over the student’s shoulder to see what they have written in their exercise book. There is also a content library for the teacher to add notes.

4. Assignments

Set assessed work, hand out work to students, collect submissions and mark.

5. Grades

This is a grade book linked to the assignments. See all the assignments set throughout an academic year or all the assignments set for an individual student throughout the academic year.

6. Long term resources

Access long term student facing resources in your centralised resource bank. Saves time by not having to upload your resources into each class that you teach and share resources with your department. Department heads can check on the quality of these centralised resources.

7. Insights (optional – add as tab)

Measure student engagement with statistics.

8. Breakout Groups (optional – add as channels)

Create breakout groups so students can work together on projects. These can be private channels on visible by the students added or open to the whole class.

Additional functionality

Please note that the student folders and long term resource tab is a feature provided by Cloud Design Box to help save teachers time and make it easier to work in Class Teams automated from MIS (SIS) data. You can contact us here.

Archived Class Teams – Where have they gone?

During the academic year rollover process in Microsoft School Data Sync, schools can choose clean-up actions for their old class teams. The most popular and recommended clean-up action is “Archive”. It’s much easier for teachers and students to see current teams when they login.

The archived teams appear to vanish leaving the user with all the current classes for the new academic year.

However, they have not disappeared, and the teacher/student can still access the team in read-only mode.

In the video below, Darren Hemming from Cloud Design Box shows you how you can access archived classes from previous academic years.



Cloud Design Box customers can benefit from an option in class dashboard to switch back to a previous academic year.

Class Dashboard Archived Teams

Talk to the team at Cloud Design Box if you need help with Teams for education.

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.

Useful PowerShell Scripts for Managing Classes in Microsoft Teams

So, you have school data sync setup and all of your class teams have been generated in Microsoft Teams. Teachers are eager to start using it for extending the classroom or remote learning. Teachers then realise that students can do things that they were not aware of and request for some rights to be restricted.

Here is a list of useful PowerShell scripts to help you manage some of the most common issues that schools face.

  • – Allow teachers to delete student messages
  • – Stop students emailing the class group
  • – Disable chat for students
  • – Calling and Live Event Policies

Allow teachers to delete student messages

It’s surprising that this is not enabled as standard. Owners in class teams cannot delete member messages unless a custom message policy is set.

Create a messaging policy in the Teams Admin centre

Create a new messaging policy and select “Owners can delete sent messages”

Create custom message policy in Teams
Owners can delete messages
Apply Custom Message Policy using PowerShell
 

This needs to be run as a global admin. The variables at the top of the script should be changed to the AAD (or synced AD) group that you want to apply the messaging policy to and the message policy name.

#Variables to change - add the AAD group and custom message policy name here
$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo="All Teachers"
$customMessagePolicyName="CustomTeacherMessagingPolicy1"

# Install AzureAD PowerShell if you don't already have it - commented out below
# install-module azuread

#Import modules if you haven't already
Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
Import-Module AzureAD

#Connect to Skype and Azure AD
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $userCredential

$GroupUsers = Get-AzureADGroup -ALL $true -Filter "DisplayName eq '$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo'" | Get-AzureADGroupMember -ALL $true | select mail
 
foreach ($GroupUser in $GroupUsers)
{
	$userEmail=$GroupUser.Mail
	write-host "Processing $userEmail"
	Grant-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -PolicyName "$customMessagePolicyName" -Identity "$userEmail"
}

Stop students emailing the class group

Once a student receives a welcome message into a group, they may reply back to it or find it in the address list and start a large group email.

In the script below connect to Microsoft Exchange PowerShell. You should update the variables with an AD security group for students to apply the policy to. To ensure you only apply this to the relevant teams, use the wildcard search to filter them. In this example we are assuming teams have been named in a format of SchoolCode-AcademicYear-ClassName so we can set the wildcard to only apply this setting to Teams starting with SCH-2019.

######Replace the following variables if necessary##########
$studentADSecurityGroup ="All Students"   #AD Group for all students
$wildcardsearch="SCH-2019*"                #Wildcard for Teams display name - Search for Teams beginning with ....  
###########################################################

$MyCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $MyCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session -AllowClobber
$groups = Get-UnifiedGroup -ResultSize 20000 -SortBy DisplayName -Identity "$wildcardsearch" | Select DisplayName,WhenCreated,Id
 
foreach ($group in $groups)
{
    $teamName = $group.DisplayName
    Write-Host "restricting group emails on $teamName for $studentADSecurityGroup"
    Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "$teamName" -RejectMessagesFromSendersOrMembers "$studentADSecurityGroup"
}

Disable chat for students

Teams is a safe environment for students to chat, chats can be audited and monitored more closely than if they where to use WhatsApp or snapchat outside of the school systems. However, there are some situations where it might require turning off for safeguarding reasons.

Create message policy in Teams admin centre
Teams message policy

Click “Add” to create a new message policy and turn off the chat setting.

Turn off chat for students


Apply Custom Message Policy using PowerShell

This needs to be run as a global admin. The variables at the top of the script should be changed to the AAD (or synced AD) group that you want to apply the messaging policy to and the message policy name.

#Variables to change - add the AAD group and custom message policy name here
$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo="All Students"
$customMessagePolicyName="CustomStudentMessagingPolicy1"

# Install AzureAD PowerShell if you don't already have it - commented out below
# install-module azuread

#Import modules if you haven't already
Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
Import-Module AzureAD

#Connect to Skype and Azure AD
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $userCredential

$GroupUsers = Get-AzureADGroup -ALL $true -Filter "DisplayName eq '$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo'" | Get-AzureADGroupMember -ALL $true | select mail
 
foreach ($GroupUser in $GroupUsers)
{
	$userEmail=$GroupUser.Mail
	write-host "Processing $userEmail"
	Grant-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -PolicyName "$customMessagePolicyName" -Identity "$userEmail"
}

Calling Policies

Calling policies can be used to configure what can and can’t be done by users when calling on Teams. An example of this might be for preventing students from calling on Teams.

Calling policies can be found under Voice as shown below:

Calling Policies

These are the settings that can be applied:

Teams Calling Policy for Students

This is how we apply a calling policy:

#Variables to change - add the AAD group and custom message policy name here
$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo="All Students"
$customMessagePolicyName="CallingPolicyForStudents"

# Install AzureAD PowerShell if you don't already have it - commented out below
# install-module azuread

#Import modules if you haven't already
Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
Import-Module AzureAD

#Connect to Skype and Azure AD
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $userCredential

$GroupUsers = Get-AzureADGroup -ALL $true -Filter "DisplayName eq '$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo'" | Get-AzureADGroupMember -ALL $true | select mail
 
foreach ($GroupUser in $GroupUsers)
{
	$userEmail=$GroupUser.Mail
	write-host "Processing $userEmail"
	Grant-CsTeamsCallingPolicy -Identity "$userEmail" -PolicyName "$customMessagePolicyName"
}

Live Event Policies

Live Event policies might be used restricting who can attend or record them live events.

Live event policies can be found under Meetings as shown below:

Live Event Policies

These are the options when setting up a Live Events policy.

Teams Live Event Policy for Teachers

This is how we apply a Live Event policy:

#Variables to change - add the AAD group and custom message policy name here
$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo="All Students"
$customMessagePolicyName="LiveEventPolicyForStudents"

# Install AzureAD PowerShell if you don't already have it - commented out below
# install-module azuread

#Import modules if you haven't already
Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
Import-Module AzureAD

#Connect to Skype and Azure AD
$userCredential = Get-Credential
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $userCredential
Import-PSSession $sfbSession
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $userCredential

$GroupUsers = Get-AzureADGroup -ALL $true -Filter "DisplayName eq '$ADSecurityGroupNameToApplyPolicyTo'" | Get-AzureADGroupMember -ALL $true | select mail
 
foreach ($GroupUser in $GroupUsers)
{
	$userEmail=$GroupUser.Mail
	write-host "Processing $userEmail"
	Grant-CsTeamsMeetingBroadcastPolicy -Identity "$userEmail" -PolicyName "$customMessagePolicyName"
}

Update 11/11/2020: We have been informed that you may need to connect to Teams PowerShell to run these commands rather than Skype on some tenants (Connect-MicrosoftTeams).

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 9 – What is an MIE Expert and how do I become one?

In this podcast episode, we’ve taken a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on a school’s user adoption methods, we’re looking at how the process can be made easier when you have a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) in your ranks.

But what exactly is an MIE Expert and how can your school, multi-academy trust or organisation get one?

We spoke with Elaine Topham, Senior Learning Technologist at Grimsby Institute, MIE Expert and one of six UK-based MIE Fellows.



“An MIE is someone who has nominated themselves to join the Microsoft community of educators that work with Office 365,” Elaine tells us.

“The MIE Status recognises those who are using the latest Microsoft technology in their schools and classrooms to better learning and student outcomes.”

Elaine’s journey to becoming an MIE Expert is an incredible one:

“I’ve always been quite interested in technology; however, I didn’t have the best start – I left school at 15 with no qualifications, so it was quite difficult getting into work,” admits Elaine.

In 2001, she landed a work placement at Grimsby College, working with IT technicians to install computers around the campus and also supporting students who were studying Level 1 and Level 2 IT qualifications.

Several years later, she began working at community learning centres, supporting people who were also completing the IT course:

“I loved this role because it gave me the opportunity to work with people who had perhaps never used digital before – it was a really rewarding job.”

Elaine joined Grimsby Institute in 2010, working as a tutor and teaching IT Functional Skills to students.

“I spent five years in that role, but by this point, I felt that my skills were best suited to supporting teachers in grasping digital. For me, this has a big impact on the students’ learning experience,” she continues.

Today, she oversees the work that the innovation team does, administering VLE and ensuring all their staff have the right training and support they need to do their jobs well.

“Our goal is to make sure our staff are supported and can meet the demands of digital.”

Her recognition as an MIE came about after she was encouraged to apply for the programme by her manager:

“I hadn’t heard of the scheme before, but I looked it up and decided to apply. I put a lot of effort into my application, including all the ways I use Microsoft in my job.”

Elaine was accepted and has been an MIE Expert for almost four years now.

“You have to apply each year, answering questions about why you feel you’re an MIE, what tools you use, and how you share your knowledge beyond the classroom.”

The Microsoft Innovative Educators programme is all about building a community of educators that are willing to share best practice and techniques, so a lot of the benefits revolved around this powerful and well-connected community.

When you’re an MIE, you have a monthly connection call via Microsoft Teams with other MIEs, as well as being kept in the loop about early releases, product demonstrations and new features.

“It’s a global programme, so you get to meet and talk with people from all over the world and learn how they’re using technology in their roles as educators,” enthuses Elaine.

“Because we’re speaking regularly with Microsoft, we also get to guide some of the development of the products, letting them know what works best for us, what doesn’t and what we’d like to see next.”

As Elaine explains, having this kind of insight into the digital tools used throughout your school is invaluable:

“Digital moves so quickly, so being an MIE offers me a quicker way of getting the knowledge I need to be able to pass it onto the staff and students at Grimsby Institute. I’m able to know what’s coming out soon and even shape the future of some of the products to improve the learning experience of our students.”

You can find out more about being a Microsoft Innovative Educator here:
MIE Programs
MIE Expert Applications

There is no limit to the number of MIEs you can have at one organisation, anyone can apply and it’s completely free.

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 10 – Virtual Lessons using Microsoft Teams

We’ve been asked by some schools facing part and full closure to create a podcast about delivering virtual lessons using Microsoft Teams.

In this podcast, we focus on using Microsoft Teams to provide remote lessons.

Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant, explains how these tools allow some continuation of learning, even if teachers or students are unable to get into school or are remotely located.



How do I create a virtual lesson using Microsoft Teams?

Step one is to start a video call to broadcast and record your lesson. You can do this via the general channel.

The idea is to replicate a lot of the things you would do normally in a real classroom, so don’t be put off by the technology.

Of course, virtual lessons are not the same, but the resources available in Microsoft Teams should help you continue to deliver quality lessons and resources to your class.

Once you start the call, you should mute the students. If you mute the first five that enter the video call, the rest are muted automatically.

That’s one thing you can’t do in a real classroom!

All jokes aside, this allows you to smoothly deliver the first part of the lesson; usually a presentation, demonstration or discussion about a specific topic.

If you have a Powerpoint Presentation, a Word Document or a video you’d like to show to the class, you can do so by sharing your screen as you talk through the content.

Meanwhile, if you have something physical to show your class, you can turn your webcam around to demonstrate. This is great for art teachers, design and technology lessons and science subjects.

How do I record a video lesson?

What’s brilliant about Microsoft Teams is that you can record your video lessons so that students can look back on them for future revision, or perhaps if some students can’t make the lesson at the time of delivery.

All recorded lessons can be stored in Microsoft Teams for both you and your students to rewatch at a later date.

Lesson Recording in Microsoft Steam

How do my students complete class tasks in Microsoft Teams?

Once you have delivered the lesson, it’s time to get students started on a task or project.

Students can use OneNote to take notes and complete any tasks or questions you assign them.

Teachers can view students’ individual notesdocuments, just as you would if you were walking around the classroom and looking over their shoulders.

If a student is having some issues, or simply not completing the work, you can message them individually to give support and guidance.

Likewise, if a student is struggling on a specific question, they can message the teacher in a private message, away from the eyes of the rest of the class.

However, we have seen a lot of collaboration between students, where someone asks a question to the class via the general channel and their classmates respond and support them with answers and suggestions.

Can I set up different channels or groups for my class?

There are two ways to set up channels in Teams – private and public. But there are endless ways in which you can use them when delivering virtual lessons.

We suggest the following as a starting point:

Private channels are great for dividing the class into groups, where they can receive different levels of support or work together on a specific project.

Meanwhile, public channels are typically used for dividing resources and lessons. For example, you could create a public channel for each topic you teach, and from here students can access key resources, rewatch video lessons and discuss assignment tasks.

How do I deliver a plenary or finish my virtual lesson?

You can finish the virtual lesson by opening up another video call to answer any final questions students may have.

Students’ work can also be presented to the rest of the class by sharing your screen as either individual students, or groups, discuss the work they’ve created.

Remember, if you record your video lessons, these can be stored where students can access them at a later time.

What are the main barriers of virtual lessons?

There is so much you can do with Microsoft Teams to create a quality virtual lesson for your students. But, we do understand that there are some challenges to delivering classes remotely.

One main barrier is ensuring all of your class has access to a connected device, such as a tablet or mobile phone.

A mobile phone isn’t ideal, but it is the most common. With a smartphone, students can still participate and listen to what is happening, but of course, some of the details may be difficult to see on such a small screen.

Training is also a barrier. We’d recommend going through a few practice runs when possible to make sure that everyone knows how to join a call and access Teams from their devices.

Not only is this great for you as a teacher, who may feel uncomfortable by delivering a lesson remotely, but also reinforces the learning for your pupils.

We wish you the best of luck in delivering virtual learning, and if you do have any questions, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you.