Tag Archives: Microsoft Teams

Transform Student Engagement with Digital Ink

Guest post by Courtney Farrow with video by Tony Phillips

With 98% of classrooms now using computers, laptops and tablets, it’s safe to say that digital learning is here to stay.

However, many teachers still find themselves chained to their desktop computers, whiteboards and paper notebooks, unable to invest time and energy into making lessons more engaging, diverse and dynamic.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, Digital Ink in Microsoft’s Class Notebook could transform the way you teach.

Combining the traditional hand-written word with the power of digital technology, Digital Ink has improved the quality of the curriculum for 90% of teachers who have used it.

On top of this, schools say that Digital Ink saves time, increases engagement and class management, creates more personalised learning environments where students can get authentic, timely feedback from their teachers.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at some of the proven benefits of Digital Ink in the classroom.

Save time.

One of the main advantages of Digital Ink is that it saves time, which will probably be music to every teacher’s ears.

In fact, 67% of teachers who used the product said that it saved them precious time when preparing lessons, allowing them to access pre-prepared resources quickly, without having to redraw or re-write everything the class needs to see on a whiteboard.

One teacher explained:
“When I taught geometry and got to the question that nobody in the class understood, I had to stop the lesson and draw on the whiteboard. It took five minutes, and then I had to add labels. Only after all this, could I finally start talking about how to solve it.”

With Digital Ink, any lesson resources can be prepared in advance and reused over and over again, without having to erase and recreate it the next time you cover the topic.

Meanwhile, half of teachers have found that it saves time marking and grading pupils’ work. There will be more detail on student feedback with Digital Ink later in this blog post.

Improve the quality of lessons by unchaining the teacher from their desk

Most teachers who have used Digital Ink have said that it allows them to be anywhere in the classroom – without being tied to the front desk – enabling them to manage the class and engage the students in the work that’s appearing on the smartboard.

Thanks to the connectivity between student and teacher devices, children can be interacting with what is being displayed on the smartboard within seconds.

A more personalised learning environment.

Real-time collaboration between students and their teachers allows learning to continue outside of the classroom.

Around 50% of teachers have said that the technology increases the quality of communications with students.

Authentic and timely student feedback

Because of increased communication in and outside of the classroom, digital ink has transformed the way teachers give feedback to pupils.

You can quickly and easily annotate a piece of work, feeding back to students instantly and supporting them when they need it, rather than days after they need it.

As with all Microsoft Office 365 products, everything is saved automatically and in one place. One key benefit several teachers have pointed out is that Digital Ink lets teachers give feedback during the school day, or even during the actual lesson, rather than waiting until they get home.

In the video below, Cloud Design Box Founder Tony Phillips walks you through some critical uses of Digital Ink in the classroom, including student feedback and annotations, ink-to-text capability and solutions and steps for Math equations.



*All statistics and research mentioned in this blog post was taken from Digital Ink in the Classroom – Authentic, Efficient Student Engagement, an IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Microsoft. IDC conducted a research study with 685 teachers who are using computers in the classroom to understand their classroom technology usage, and specifically how they are using Digital Inking devices.

Resources:

onenote.com/ink
digital ink in the classroom authentic efficient student engagement
White Paper: Power Digital Inking Classroom

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast: Unlock Classroom Collaboration Potential with Files in Teams and SharePoint

Conversations and instant messaging are only one part of Microsoft Class Teams. Its true power shines through when teachers share their resources with their classes through the File Sharing tabs and SharePoint integration.

Students can immediately access files and resources that their teachers upload and continue learning outside of the classroom.

However, many teachers spend hours uploading and moving files in specific Class Teams. Sound familiar?

Luckily, there’s a much more effective way of managing class resources in Office 365.

Instead of storing your main resources in separate Class Teams, we recommend making use of SharePoint by having a central hub for all of your long-term resources – i.e. the ones your pupils will need over and over again, right the way through the school year.

Not only is this faster for you to manage, but by creating a central SharePoint resource library for each subject, you remove the need to duplicate work while allowing teachers and heads of departments to collaborate when creating valuable learning resources.

“Resources quickly become siloed if you only upload them to individual classes,” Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant says.

Darren is a former teacher of Modern Languages and ICT and is a passionate advocate of blended learning. He has also worked with schools, leading several large-scale learning platform projects for local authorities and for Building Schools for the Future.

“I’ve seen the collaboration and sharing of resources work very well across departments, and even across different schools inside of one multi-academy trust.”

Once this central hub is set up, you no longer have to worry about attaching individual files and folders to individuals Class Teams.

Simply select + to add a tab and then add your SharePoint resource library to the Class Team.



Now, we’re not telling you to avoid sharing anything directly in Class Teams.

Of course, if you have a one-off resource to share with your class on a specific topic, sharing only in Teams instead of SharePoint first makes a lot of sense.

However, creating a central library for your main resources and then adding them to Teams is a much faster, straightforward way of file sharing with your classes.

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!



Importing and Exporting Rubrics in Microsoft Teams

Read more about how to setup and use rubrics in Microsoft Teams in our previous post.

There are options available in Microsoft Teams to export and import Rubric grading criteria. This is great news for educators, it will empower them to share rubrics with their department, school, trust or the rest of the world!



Exporting a Rubric

Find an assignment that you used with the rubric attached. Select the assignment and open the rubric.

Rubric on Microsoft Teams Assignment

Select the download as CSV option. This will download your rubric in a CSV formatted spreadsheet.

Exporting a Rubric in Microsoft Teams

It might not seem much use in this format but follow the steps below to import it. Ideally the next steps should be followed by someone who doesn’t already have access to this rubric.

Importing a Rubric

Create a new assignment, add a rubric and select the import option.

Importing a Rubric in Microsoft Teams

Find the CSV and import it. Not only is the rubric available for use in this assignment, it will now appear in your rubric list for all future assignments that you set!

Office 365 User Adoption: Focus on a Long-Term Plan

You know how much Office 365 could transform your school or academy, but how do you convince the rest of the staff and student body?

Getting everyone on board with a new concept or piece of software is a challenge for all organisations, but by sharing experiences, we can learn from others who have been in our shoes.

That’s why we have created this podcast series, highlighting real-life user adoption stores for SharePoint and Office 365 for Education.

In this episode, we speak to Duncan Thurlow, a Science Teacher and Whole School IT Coordinator at Whitley Bay High School in North Tyneside.



Cloud Design Box Founder Tony Phillips and Darren Hemming, our Operations Manager, find out more about some of the methods Whitley Bay has used to encourage staff and students to embrace the cloud-based service.

“When you introduce anything new, there are always hurdles,” Duncan tells us. “It’s a case of upskilling across the whole school; teachers, admin staff and the pupils.”

Duncan describes how on the first day of the new year, staff attended a training session that outlined some of the basics of Office 365 and SharePoint.

“From day one, we set it as the standard home page, so everyone would hit it on a daily basis. It’s about getting people into the habit of storing documents in the cloud and using the quick links that Cloud Design Box set for the landing page.”


Cloud Design Box

This was followed by a series of drop-in sessions and then a recap workshop in January, where staff could ask questions and explore some of the features in more depth.

“We were careful to set out a strict structure for certain things, such as file storage. For example, we disabled saving to USB sticks in some areas in order to promote the cloud. However, we also gave our staff the freedom to choose how they used it within their specific departments,” Duncan points out.

‘All different, but all equal’ is at the heart of the Whitley Bay ethos:
“It runs throughout our school, from staff to students.”

Duncan believes the key is to discover the hook for each department, whether it’s accessing shared resources outside of school hours for teaching staff, collecting responses quickly on Microsoft Forms for admin staff, or sending out bulletin alerts for the pastoral team.

“Forcing people to move their entire workflow to the cloud only causes frustration, annoyance and – ultimately – resentment. We don’t want that. We want people to use these tools to enhance the learning for our pupils,” he adds.

A long-term approach has been crucial for user adoption at Whitley Bay.

“There has to be a strong sense of commitment with anything you introduce into a school. Be consistent and think about the bigger picture.” Duncan continues.

“Concentrate on one or two things you’d like to achieve in the first twelve months. For us, this was access from home and file collaboration. A slow and steady transition to this feature-rich product receives a much more positive response compared to a rushed, forced move to the cloud.”

If you want to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can help you implement a digital strategy to move to the cloud, visit our website: https://www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/education

Office 365 User Adoption Series: Learning From Experience with Gareth Rose (Episode 2).

We understand that seamless user adoption of Office 365 and SharePoint can prove tricky, with many hurdles to jump before your whole organisation is fully on board.

That’s why we’re creating a series of podcasts focusing on real-life user adoption stories, with schools, academies and businesses just like yours.

The second episode features Tony Phillips, Cloud Design Box Founder, and Gareth Rose, Assistant Headteacher at Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form.

Gareth’s experience with user adoption in schools is unique as he has already been through the process of rolling out Office 365, Teams, SharePoint and Class Notebook at his former workplace, Dagenham Park Church of England School.

We spoke with Gareth to find out what tools and techniques he is going to reuse when introducing the Microsoft suite to the staff and pupils at Notley High School.



Create champions.

“My first piece of advice is to get people to become champions of the product. Get the RE teacher to understand the value in putting all their class resources online and show the Music teacher how pupils can annotate in OneNote,” Gareth enthuses.

Starting out with small, basic tasks, Gareth got to know the main pain points of departments and the word spread from there.

“You can see the spark in their eyes when you’ve saved them 20 minutes of time using a basic feature of Office 365.”

Give them no choice.

“A very quick win is changing everyone’s home page to the staff or pupil SharePoint. This gets people familiar with the technology and helps them to become comfortable with using it in the future,” Gareth continues.

“Make it so it’s the only way to access some resources, such as the lunchtime duty rota. When people start to see how beneficial it is to have one calendar that is regularly updated, rather than multiple emails with multiple versions, they begin to gain confidence in the system.”

From here, Gareth explains, the word ‘SharePoint’ was being banded around the staffroom and uttered in staff meetings. By getting people to engage with the platform, you can raise their confidence when it comes to moving more activities across to Office 365.

Have an open-door policy.

“Of course, giving people only one choice when accessing certain documents is risky. But, explain to people, if they have any issues, they can come and see you,” he points out.

“At Dagenham Park, I would sit in with teachers on the first few lessons to get them and their pupils properly set up. In a couple of sessions, teachers and students were writing digital notes and recording their voices in French – incredible to see.”

Working with members of staff and pupils in this way also allows you to understand the many ways in which Office 365 and SharePoint can help enhance the teaching and learning experience.

“After this, it’s kind of like a rolling stone,” Gareth highlights.

“I can see a time in the future where all pupils have iPads. We’ve seen schools hand out devices to their students, but without an ecosystem in which they can actually use them in. What we’re building here is an environment where everyone is on board and using the features of Office 365 to their full potential.”

Final, takeaway points from Gareth:

  • Create and identify champions of Office 365 and SharePoint.
  • Get to know ways in which individuals and departments could benefit from using the suite.
  • Change the homepage and make some resources available only on SharePoint.
  • Be prepared to offer support and answer any questions people have.
  • Design an ecosystem in which people can use Office 365.

If you have any questions about user adoption, or how Office 365 and SharePoint could transform your workspace, school or academy, please get in touch with Cloud Design Box today.

ESPC: SharePoint Team Sites and Microsoft Teams Working Together

The future role of SharePoint with the advent of Teams has been on my mind for over a year now. Teams is built on top of SharePoint but is an application rather than a website. Teams has chat and collaboration, but SharePoint has news and is interconnected with related sites through Hub sites in sometimes a more intuitive interface. Teams is gaining more user adoption with its modern way of creating an efficient workplace. The governance and admin controls are on their way for Teams too. Which should you use? Do you have to make a choice?

As a SharePoint and Teams provider, it has been hard to determine if Teams was there to replace SharePoint or that it would work side-by-side with SharePoint. My initial thoughts were that SharePoint would be the organisation intranet (communication sites), a place to go for company-wide communication and resources. Microsoft Teams or SharePoint Team sites were great for small-medium team collaboration.

At the European SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure conference 2018 in Copenhagen, Jeff Teper (Corporate Vice President – Office 365) explained the vision for SharePoint and Teams.

Jeff Teper Corporate Vice President - Office 365

The vision Microsoft have is that SharePoint Team sites and MS Teams live side-by-side. In fact, they should be the same collaboration areas but accessed through different mediums. Eventually everything in SharePoint should be surfaced in Teams. Recently Microsoft have released an option to create a Microsoft Team from a SharePoint Team site, this even adds a cool link to open the Team.

The release of SharePoint Framework (SPFx) web parts for Teams supports moving towards this goal, surfacing the same functionality for both platforms (just in a different shell). It also works the other way around, Microsoft Team SharePoint Team sites (the site behind the Team!), can be added to SharePoint Hub sites just like any other SharePoint site so news and events can be aggregated. When planning site architecture, we can now imagine that whatever site or team is planned in either SharePoint or Teams, both could be accessed with either application.

There are still going to be instances where one is preferred over the other. In some scenarios, Office 365 groups with owners and members might not be the preferred access model for SharePoint intranet sites but there is a valid option for these sites – modern communication sites. Microsoft mentioned that they will be closing the gap on differences between communication and team sites and that one day you should be able to convert one to another. This again would help organisations on a long journey moving to a modern team-based flat structure.

More exciting updates to come….