A really exciting announcement this morning from the MSFT General Manager Lori Wright – Guest Access is now available!
Read the official release here.
This is far and away the most requested feature from schools that I’ve encountered and given the enormous growth in usage of Microsoft Teams since it was released six months ago, I can see Guest Access contributing to even more usage. Here’s an interesting infographic of usage so far:
It is worth nothing, however, that this is not unrestricted guest access at this stage. From the blog release:
Beginning today, anyone with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account can be added as a guest in Teams. That means anyone with one of the more than 870 million user accounts—across Microsoft commercial cloud services and third-party Azure AD integrated apps—can be added as a guest in Teams.
This actually caught me out as I saw on Twitter first thing this morning that Guest Access had been released so I immediately logged into my demo O365 Tenant and signed into Microsoft Teams, inviting my personal email address of #######@mcneill.co.nz. Sure enough, I received the invite:
However, when I attempted to authenticate into the Team it didn’t work. The reason for this is because my @mcneill.co.nz domain email is hosted (and has been for ten years) on Google Mail services i.e. not using Azure Active Directory (AAD). It looks like this will be rectified in future releases with support for signing in with a Microsoft Account (MSA):
Later, we’ll add the ability for anyone with a Microsoft Account (MSA) to be added as a guest in Teams. If the guest doesn’t have an existing MSA, they will be directed to create a free account using their current corporate or consumer email address, such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com.
This authentication is being managed by Azure B2C which I blogged about previously, which provides the host organisation with a lot of very granular control over how and what users can access within the host tenant.
From an education perspective, there is a world of opportunities for guest access, with the following being the first off the top of my head:
- Inter-school collaboration for professional development (this is particularly relevant in New Zealand with the development of the Communities of Learning or CoLS)
- External experts are used for professional development of staff or additional teaching of students. Remember, Meet Now allows video calls directly within Teams.
- Adding Parents or Caregivers into a Team for seamless communication between school and home
- School partners/suppliers who deliver services could be added to a Team for easier communication
I’ve blogged about a few times about Teams and could be worth checking out if you’re new to these:
- Quickly populate Teams with AzureAD Security Groups
- Teams for Education Introduction
- Tips for planning how to deploy Teams
- Using Meet Now for Video Conferencing in Teams
While many schools do use AzureAD, some are 100% Google Cloud accounts and therefore, as in my example above, they won’t be able to sign into Teams at this stage. There is, however, a good work around for this using AzureAD Single Sign On (SSO). This requires the primary identity of students/faculty to be managed out of AzureAD but then allows for the configuration of SSO into G Suite accounts in only a few minutes. This is probably the easiest way to usher in Google Schools to using Teams at this stage.