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This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


 

We’ve reached the point where we have a lot of fantastic tools for enhancing our instruction, but everything is scattered: One piece of information comes through email, another conversation happens in a text, and another file is sent to us through Facebook messenger. We keep multiple tabs open for dozens of websites, toggle between apps, check notifications in four different places.

And we’re used to it, more or less. It’s fine. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could put all of our school-related communication in one place?

Microsoft Teams gives us that one place and so much more. It’s a seamless platform that not only streamlines your teaching workflow, but also makes it possible for you to create a space for more robust collaboration between your students.

Let’s look at how Teams works and what it can do for you.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Think of Microsoft Teams as a hub where you and your students interact online, a workspace where you can communicate, share files, and even meet online. This video shows how it works:

 

Key Features

Communication and Collaboration

Using the Microsoft Teams platform, teachers and students can communicate one-on-one or in groups:

Teams are listed in the column on the left. Within each team, separate
 channels can be created to keep discussions and materials organized.

 

Assignments

Microsoft has recently added assignment management tools; many of these features came from the Chalkup platform, which joined Microsoft earlier this year. With this new addition, teachers can now manage their assignments without ever leaving the Teams environment.

With the Assignments tools, teachers can:

With the rubric feature in Teams, you can create robust rubrics, use them to
assess student work, and save them to reuse or adapt for other assignments.

 

App Integrations

I love this feature: When you need to take things up a notch, you can use some of the most popular apps in education right inside the Teams environment, including Kahoot!, Nearpod, Quizlet, and Flipgrid. If a particular app will be used frequently by a group, you can add a designated tab to a channel just for that app, so users can get to it quickly.

Many of your favorite educational apps are integrated with Teams. You can
use them without ever leaving the Teams platform.

 

Nothing to Download, Nothing to Buy

Microsoft Teams is all cloud-based, meaning you don’t have to buy new software or install anything. And it’s all completely free for educators and students who have an Office 365 Education subscription (which is also available for free).

On top of that, you can use Teams on the go: Just put the iOS or Android app on your mobile device and you can access your classroom from anywhere.

How Teams Could Change the Way You Work

There’s something to be said for integration: With so much of what you need built into one seamless platform, you no longer have to deal with the hassle of mixing your accounts, multiple sign-ins and toggling back and forth between apps. And having that hassle simply disappear frees up time and energy to settle in and really take advantage of what these tools have to offer.

Where Do You Even Start?

The capabilities of Microsoft Teams can seem overwhelming at first. And if you’re already running a lot of your other systems on other platforms, the thought of starting something new may be daunting.

Here’s what I suggest: Pick one project and try operating the whole thing through Microsoft Teams. This could be an event or fundraiser, a short-term committee, or a teacher book study. Make it something that’s got a definite end point, and have everyone involved commit to sticking with it.

There will be some growing pains as everyone gets used to navigating it, but think of it as a learning experience. Once you’ve tried Teams out with a single project, you’ll have a better idea of how you might want to use it in other areas.

More to Come

Over this past year I have become more familiar with the innovations Microsoft is adding to their repertoire, and I’m more impressed with every new layer I uncover. From their accessibility tools to their STEM resources to the incredible power of Teams, Microsoft is putting an incredible amount of time, energy, and brain power into innovating for schools. I can’t wait to see what they do next. ♦

 


For a more in-depth look at Microsoft Teams, check out this 8-part video series.


 

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4 Comments

  1. I advise the newspaper staff and we’re in our fourth year using the One Note collaboration space as a project manager.

    I can see the page ladder, story drafts and layout dummies by page all in one space. I do final edits—using a stylus—right on the screen. Students can use it on their home computers to do work, too. When we’re done with an issue, we create a section group, move all that content into it and start over with issue 2. By the end of the year, I archive all 6 issues, and web content, close the notebook and I have an archive of text and graphic assets.

    Strongly recommend it. It’s streamlined a complex process.

  2. Arjan Harjani says:

    I wanted to know the similarities and differences between Microsoft Teams and Schoology, which we have adopted at our school this year. I know that schoology is a platform like Canvas but is MST offering something like Schoology?
    Thanks
    Arjan

    • Hi Arjan,

      This is where Teams falls short for me. As a classroom teacher, I worked for a district that used Schoology. The teacher management side was simple, and the ability to compile grades in a grade book was worth every penny the district spent.

      Teams (and Google classroom for the record) do not have an easy way to manage the student data piece. You as a teacher are still left checking apps and assignments to get a big picture of where a student is at.

      Schoology falls short on the student collaboration side, but I found it much easier to use the school groups feature, discussion boards, or just a well designed google doc to handle that.

      Looking back, I might have tried Teams for Student Government, or another student activity, but it would be tough to convince me to abandon Schoology (or any other true LMS with a built in grade book) for Teams.

  3. Jennifer
    Thank you for this!
    I teach at the International University of Monaco and we are a ‘Microsoft school’.
    I will be trying Teams with my first year undergraduate students.
    Love the site – keep up the great posts!
    Andrew
    ANTIBES, France.

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