We have made a quick video guide for students and parents about using Microsoft Teams from home during this time of remote learning. We hope you find it useful!
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.
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.
Managing document expiry can be time consuming and difficult to track. Maybe you have policy documents which need refreshing every year or machine calibration/certification documents which need to be regularly reviewed.
It’s surprisingly easy to setup expiry notifications in SharePoint. Follow the simple steps below or watch the video for a walk through.
Adding an expiry column
In the document library, click “Add column” and select a “Date” column.
Give the column a name and click “Save”
Format the column
To make it easy to see if the document has expired, we can apply some simple column formatting.
Under the column heading, select “column settings” and then “format column”.
Select “edit template” and pick a colour for documents that are overdue, due today and not yet due.
It should look something like this!
Setup email reminder for expiring documents
In the document library toolbar, select “Flow” (eventually this will be renamed to Power Automate) and then select “Set a reminder”. It will automatically pick up the date column that you have added.
Enter a name for the flow and how many days in advance you would like reminding.
You could always edit the Flow in Power Automate if you wanted to customise it from the standard template.
If you want to find out more about our Microsoft Teams and SharePoint services, check out the Cloud Design Box Website.
Microsoft Teams is a great collaboration tool and can be used to extend the classroom. In our latest podcast, Tony and Darren from Cloud Design Box discuss the real benefits of using Microsoft Teams in the classroom. This time we are focusing on the conversation aspect.
Communication is central to good lessons and learning in the classroom. That could be teacher to student, or it could be students working together in the class. Teams allows this communication to happen anywhere by extending the classroom.
The Invisible Child
In every class there are students who are shy or lack confidence to answer questions in the classroom. Although they may know the answer, they never raise their hand in class – so their classmates may never know the understanding and passion that person has for a topic. Other students simply prefer to draft and research an answer a little bit before they share it.
Microsoft Teams conversations gives these students a voice and helps the classroom become more inclusive. The same students who didn’t have the confidence to speak in front of the class can contribute to discussions via a digital platform.
Having class Teams with open conversations can be a concern for teachers. There are ways to control this which we will look at next but it’s worth remembering that everything is audited in Office 365 including conversations so this is a much safer place for students to engage than outside of the school on social media and other platforms.
If you are not ready to use Teams conversations with your class or want them to use it at limited times (such as in lessons), then you can mute individuals or the whole class using the mute settings.
In the next user adoption podcast, we will look at the other aspects of Teams including files, Class Notebook, assignments and SharePoint integration.
In our Office 365 User Adoption Podcast this month, Tony and Darren from Cloud Design Box talk about the benefits of tagging resources and discuss metadata vs folders.
Why should we tag?
SharePoint search is great out-of-the-box. It’s intelligent and searches not just the title of the document but also inside the contents.
As people use search more and more as the main way to discover documents in Office 365, adding extra dimensions to the data you have already have can help users with more specific searches.
For example, in an education setting, we might tag resources with a Key Stage, Year Group and Subject. This helps the user, not only search in the context of the library but also across the entire organisation. It can help you find documents that are not always in the location you expect.
There is also the fact that folder structures can get complex and messy. That is something you can’t always control. However, a good tagging structure means you can create additional views to strip out all the folders and show documents grouped together by exam board.
Take a look at the image below. This is the same library which is shown above but with the folders removed and grouped by tag. It makes it much easier to find all the exam board resources and groups them neatly.
Folders vs Tagging
Folders and tagging work well together. Users need a visual structure to store their documents, it helps with user adoption as this is familiar to most users as a file share. However, adding the extra dimensions using tags give you the benefits of better search and grouped views.
How easy is it to tag?
It’s really easy to tag in SharePoint Online. Follow our guide to learn how to bulk tag your documents.
How far do we go with tagging?
If you are tagging resources with a field that users will never use to search, then it’s probably not worth using that field. We recommend not using mandatory fields. This usually provides a poor experience as it may check out documents or stop some of the collaboration features in SharePoint Online.
If you are considering mandatory tagging or if you are worried you have added too many fields to tag. Setup the fields as optional and see if users make use of the tags. People should use it because they want to use it and if it’s useful to them. If it’s not useful and if people are not using it then it shouldn’t be there.
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.
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.
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.
Assignments are easier to view with the new grouped view. Late assignments are marked red.
There are more updates coming soon too. You can check these out on the Teams Education blog.
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.”
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
It’s the update that schools have been waiting for. Today Microsoft announced parental access to Microsoft Teams assignments through a regular email digest. This update enables the school to emphasise the importance of homework and provide parents with all the information they need to fully support their children at home.
Below is a preview (real experience may differ) and details are still being released on how this will work
I expect that the teacher will need to enable this option in each class (so that parents don’t get empty updates or lack of content).
School Data Sync (SDS) will now support student contacts as a new CSV upload file. If you manage SDS yourself, this means there will be a new CSV to create and upload. Third party SDS sync providers will soon be able to support this. Parental contacts are optional so no need to rush and upload these. It might be worth waiting a few months to test this before rolling out to all classes and parents (it will give Microsoft time to fix any bugs) and it will give the school chance to cleanse parental data in the school MIS.
Update 26/02/2019: we are just waiting for Microsoft to complete the roll-out of this feature which should be in the next few weeks
Update 01/11/2019: This is finally live – sync your guardians using school data sync.
You can find out more about how we can enhance Office 365 so that it’s really easy for teachers and students to navigate and use. We also focus on user adoption by providing training needs analysis, onsite training workshops and tailored roll-out plans to increase user engagement and get your school off to a flying start. Visit the Cloud Design Box website to find out more.
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.
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….