Microsoft Teams Classroom Drop-In App Template: Allowing Virtual Attendees To Visit Classes

thumbnail image 2 captioned Install and use the Classroom Drop-in app to allow school leaders, substitute instructors, evaluators, TAs, to check in on or become a temporary teacher for a class
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I am based in New Zealand and for the last two weeks we have been back in full Level 4 lockdown as the Government and Ministry of Education responds to the first community infections of the Delta variant of COVID19.

Consequently, I’m fielding a few interesting calls from educators and IT Administrators that are either wanting some refreshers on how to best use Microsoft Teams for Education for remote learning, or are asking about specific needs for the first time.

My Principal / Head of Teaching and Learning / Head of Student Support etc etc is wanting to do ‘virtual drop ins’ to Teams – not just the video conferencing meetings, but see the chat, assignments, files etc. Help! How can I do this?

(example of the questions I have been asked recently)

The above question is completely understandable: as students partake in a renewed round of remote learning, the senior leaders in schools are wanting to ensure that robust and quality teaching and learning is taking place remotely. This is not always measured by the number of video calls that take place, but other indicators such as the depth of discussion in the Teams Posts chat as well as files being edited or collaborated on and assignments being submitted are all useful.

Fortunately, there is a Teams App built for this and published on GitHub that anyone can download and build – click here to view the instructions. From the installation instructions comes the overview of the functionality of the app:

As learning has moved online, system leaders have a hard time monitoring what’s going on in the virtual classroom. They need a way to drop-in and observe how teachers and students are doing. Also, there is a need to provide temporary access to substitute teachers. In Classroom Drop-in, system leaders can find classrooms and add themselves to it with a specified drop-in period. This will add them to corresponding team or class. They can also assign others (substitute teachers, evaluators etc.) to a class for a short period, as needed.

GitHub – OfficeDev/microsoft-teams-apps-classroom-dropin: An app template designed to enable system leaders to schedule drop-ins in virtual classrooms.

Here are a few key features of the app:

  • Admin/Teacher/User can create drop-In with the help of “New drop-in” tab and extend/delete drop-ins with the help of “My active drop-in” tab.
  • Classroom Drop-in app provides ability to search schools and teams or classes to drop in.
  • For every drop-in, app sends notification to admin as well dropped-in user.
  • Admin or System Leader can drop-in self or someone else.
  • After specified time of drop-in, the access will get revoked from assigned user and the user will get notification for the same.

I can definitely see the value of this app to support school leaders who want to easily check in on classes without needing to be added to all classes in Teams which would quickly fill up their Teams activity feed and make it very hard to see the Teams content they care most about on a day to day basis.

It’s worth noting there are some requirements to get this up and running (all listed in the documentation) and I encourage you to check the full list, but here’s the quick notes:

  • Administrative access to Azure Active Directory
  • Power Apps Premium (per App or per User) license assigned to your account (you will be unable to import the Power App without this)
  • Power Automate license assigned to your account
  • A valid SharePoint Online license assigned to your account, and permission to create lists and store data
  • A Microsoft Teams license assigned to your account
  • A copy of the Classroom Drop-in app zip package

Classroom Drop-In is built on the Microsoft Power Platform that allows for low code / no code apps to be rapidly built and deployed and the architecture is outlined below:

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If you do end up deploying this and using with your educators, I’d love to know how it goes – feel free to drop a note in the comments below!

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...