Microsoft Teams For Education Is Here – And It Is Awesome

Big news from over the weekend is that Microsoft Teams, already available in commercial Office365 Tenants, has arrived in Education with all of the new features dedicated to making this app the “one stop shop” for students and educators.

Read the official launch blog post here.

There are a number of major differences in Teams for Education (which replaces the Microsoft Classroom app that was in public preview) and these are designed to streamline the workflows for students and teachers.

Assignments:

Teams Assignments 1

From assigning, through to submission and marking, assessment can be completed directly within the Microsoft Teams app.

Persistent Conversations:

Teams Persistent Conversations.png

These allow students and teachers to share ideas on the fly, from anywhere and any device (iOS/Android/Windows Phones supported, along with native apps for Win10/MacOS and Browsers)

As a trained teacher, I can really see the benefit of setting up various channels for persistent conversation where links could be dropped for future reference/revision, video links for homework viewing and even just a fun channel where only semi-related content could be shared e.g. if you’re teaching a history class interesting facts about different periods of history that students enjoy but are not being covered in class could be shared.

What’s more, you can moderate content being shared in Teams persistent conversation to keep everyone safe. (Click here to learn how to run a Content Search on Teams. Click here to read ICT Admin FAQ for Teams).

Given students will be able to contribute to persistent conversations from any of their devices this opens up great opportunities for learning outside the classroom such as sharing a photo of your backyard if school is closed for snow; or take a selfie photo during term break and play “where in the world is….” with students guessing the location of each other.

Deep Integration With Other Products:

OneNote Class NoteBooks are, of course, built straight into the Teams app and this will likely be the central hub of Teams for many classrooms, with teachers populating content and students contributing their ideas and work into the Collaboration Spaces and their own sections.

However, one of the best parts about Teams is the ability to extend it with third party apps to plug in as Tabs in your team:

Teams Add Apps

Examples of some of the available apps already, with new, education focused apps being added regularly.

As blogged about earlier, the Meet Now function within Teams allows for both scheduled and ad-hoc video conferencing between students and staff.

Additionally, there are various types of Teams that can be set up and used and teachers and students can seamlessly switch between each team:

Teams Create

When creating a new Team you’re prompted for what type of Team you’re wanting to bring together to collaborate with.

The PLC (Professional Learning Communities) Team is based on the same structured inquiry based learning that was available in Groups and with the ability to add external team members from outside of your school/organisation coming before the end of the year, then these will be perfect for teachers that participate in cross-school professional development such as the Communities of Learning in New Zealand.

Omaha Schools District Case Study:

“Our students interact and socialize with a larger circle of influence than what we’ve ever had as a society. And when you look at how we prepare students for that type of environment, digital citizenship and literacy really come to the forefront. With technology in the classroom, we focus on the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Microsoft Teams really does all of them.”

I really like that focus on the “4Cs” when it comes to the use of technology in schools and using this as a way to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness in the classroom:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity

Ready To Get Started?

Teams Getting Started.PNG

If you’re ready to get started with Teams, then do check out this overview for ensuring Success With Teams or click one of the specific links below:

 

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Teams For Education Is Here – And It Is Awesome

  1. This sounds really good. One question though. How do teachers/IT staff manage the end of year churn with this system. For example, a teacher will have built up an entire years worth of student data within their Team. How would that teacher archive their work as evidence.

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    • Hi Paul,
      IT’s a good question and one that needs to be considered in the same way that any “virtual class” on a Learning Management System (LMS) is managed during the end of year rollover.

      I’ve previously managed Moodle installations and we developed a pretty good auto-enrollment/un-enrollment of students into/out of the classes at the start/end of year. We then put in place some time frames and communications for staff about backing up their Moodle class and how to restore/import it into their new class the following academic year before the students were automatically enrolled into it.

      I know some schools prefer to keep the same “class” (or in this case “Team”) year on year and have the students simply enroll/un-enroll each year, however this can often cause headaches based off class naming. For example, most secondary schools have more than one Year 9 English class and often go with a naming convention e.g. 9ENGL1; 9ENGL2, 9ENGL3 etc. One year a teacher may be teaching the “1” class, but the following the “2” class. If these codes are used in your Student Management System (SMS) then the teacher/students won’t “match” the following year.

      Given it is super easy to use Student Data Sync (SDS – see https://samuelmcneill.com/2017/01/24/microsoft-classroom-sds-some-useful-resources/ for more information) to automatically create and enroll students into Microsoft Teams, I would suggest you explore that as key component to manage the creation of Teams each year.

      In terms of evidence and student work – remember that most of it will be stored in the Team’s Class NoteBook and students/staff can take backups of this using the following:

      https://samuelmcneill.com/2017/06/09/school-is-finishing-how-do-i-keep-a-copy-of-my-onenote-class-notebooks/

      Hope this helps,

      Sam

      Like

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