It’s been an educational year like no other and technology has come to the forefront to help keep us all connected and to help schools retain their sense of community. Thousands of schools up and down the country and around the world have embraced Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.
As 2020 draws to a close and we all hope that 2021 has something better up it’s sleeve Microsoft has delivered three early Christmas presents for teachers within Teams.
Teachers are used to looking around their classrooms and seeing who’s engaged and who isn’t. Teachers are skilled at ensuring that everyone participates in class discussions, at asking the less confident children to answer questions and generally monitoring what’s going on around the room.
That’s much harder when there’s no one in the room and there’s 30 faces on a screen and children are handing work in electronically and taking part in online discussions via keyboards.
Teachers can now unwrap the Insights app in Microsoft Teams to help them quickly monitor activity in their class team, who’s completing tasks, who’s not posted anything in a class discussion. Helping teachers to identify those that might need a little more support or a phone call home to check everything is ok.
Add Insights to your class Team or your personal apps now. Get in touch if you need some help.
2. Large Galley and Together mode
In February there were very few teachers that cared that you could only see 4 pupils on a screen in a Teams meeting, by the end of March as schools around the world closed and learning moved online, teachers quickly started shouting “More”. Teams quicky changed to enable 9 pupils on a screen and with promise of more. Now you can enable ‘Large Gallery’ and have up to 49 little faces staring at you at once.
Teams has gone further and introduced Together Mode – enabling you to have your whole class on screen at once in different settings or ‘scenes’. In December Microsoft have enabled more ‘scenes’ to add some variety and some fun to your online classes. So your children can be sat on coloured chairs, round a table or even under the sea!
3. Break out rooms – Hooray!
A highly asked for feature and one of the reasons why some of the schools I’ve worked with have chosen other video conferencing platforms for their teaching this year. Teachers like to get children to work in groups and lots of schools wanted to have a whole class introduction, move into group work (in a break out room) and come back for a plenary. This was challenging in Teams until this month.
Now teachers can easily create break out rooms for group work, have Teams randomly assign pupils to groups (rooms) or manage that themselves. As a teacher you can move around the groups, send a message to every group and automatically close the rooms and bring everyone back together.
If you want help getting to grips with Teams or want an update on the new features and how to use them, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.