June is great month to release new functionality in EDU tools, when school is out in large parts of the world. In this post I will introduce you to some of the latest announcements from Microsoft, and discuss what this means in education.
But first, lets take a moment to reflect on the past. Teams for Education just turned one year, and what a year it has been!
Classrooms all over the world are experiencing transformation, students are given a voice, and inclusive and engaging learning environments have been created.
Let’s have a look at some of the features announced lately.
First up is one that I know educators have been longing for. Page locking in OneNote Class Notebook is finally rolling out. Not only that, using Teams teachers can set pages to automatically lock when the assignment hits the due date!
Another common request has been for students to be able to see how they’ll be assessed upfront, before starting the assignment. With rubric criteria and skills-based grading Microsoft introduces that, while also saving teachers time allowing them to easily grade multiple assignments at once.
Rubric grading is the first feature brought to Teams for EDU with the hiring of Chalkup co-founder and CEO Justing Chando.
Forms in assignments
Another great addition to assignments in Microsoft Teams will be the posibility to add a Form to a new assignment. As soon as the student returns the form it can be graded automatically and the score as well as any feedback will be written back to the grade book.
Reuse a team as a template
Reusing an existing team as a template when creating a new one was announced a while back, let’s see what that actually looks like.
First click Join or create a team.
Choose create team.
Pick a team type.
Give the team a name and choose Create a team using an existing team as a template.
Next up you will have to choose which team to use as a template.
And then choose what to bring over from the existing team.
At this time you can choose to bring over channels, tabs, team settings, apps and/or members. If you need to copy files you can accomplish that from within the SharePoint document library.
Join codes was also announced a while back and should be rolling out in the coming weeks. This will enable educators to easily get a group of students into the team by sending them a code.
To get the code, the teacher needs to hit the three dots (…), also known as more, followed by Manage team, and then Settings. They can then generate a code under Team code.
You will be presented with a code…
…that you can copy and send to students or other invitees.
Invitees will have to choose to join or create a team, followed by Join a team with a code.
Unsuprisingly entering the code and hitting Join team will take them to the associated team.
This is a big one. While we obviously need to automate this in larger environments, archiving teams is a welcome feature entering end of school year. This feature will according to Microsoft let you safely store your team content in read-only mode to use as a reference while setting up your Teams experience for the next school year.
Let’s have a look at how this could look, in the not so distand future.
In the Manage teams page you could get an overview of all your teams, click … (more) followed by Archive Team.
Hitting the Archive button will, well… not surprisingly archive the team.
All team activity will be frozen, or read-only, while you’re still able to add or remove members who might need access to team data.
Once archived you will have the option to restore or delete the team.
For more information about these lates announcements, see the Microsoft Education blog post.
The people behind the success
Before we move on with even more news, I would like to both congratulate and give thanks to some of the people behind this amazing product.
This is a picture of the Teams for Education team shared on Twitter, (hope it’s OK that I use it). Happy one year anniversary and keep up the excellent work, Teams rocks!
Last but not least I thought I would update you on some of the latest updates coming from Uservoice. For those who are not familiar with Uservoice, it’s a product feedback platform that allow Microsoft and others to prioritize feature requests and gain insights into customers wishes and requirements.
You can either vote for an idea or feature request or you can submit your own if your request doesn’t match one already registered.
Microsoft Teams in general has a uservoice at microsoftteams.uservoice.com, and there is a collection of education related uservoice sites at edu.uservoice.com. Microsoft Teams for Education has a dedicated UserVoice, let’s have a look at some of the recent updates.
It is important to know that even though a feature request could be tagged with ie. planned, working on it or partially done, Microsoft does not give any guarantees as to if and when it will actually surface within the product.
Integrate Assignments with calendar
This feature will insert assignments info into students Outlook calendars, effectively enabling them to easily see whats due when.
Add ability for Parents/Gaurdians to view assignments, etc.
Parent insights is crucial and while I would prefer a more comprehensive parent portal a weekly email digest is certainly a welcome addition.
Those who require more learning tools integrated with Teams, such as a parent portal or an app with attendance, week plans and more, can get this today with 3rd party tools like Skooler.
Bring the waffle menu into teams online experience
While not a big thing, easy access to other tools in Office 365 is good for usability.
The waffle will only be available while using Teams in the browser.
Ability to prevent students from editing files
Making sure students don’t remove their homework from the week plan or accidentaly remove important information from within a document shared in the team has been a top request by teachers since the release of Teams for Education, and it now looks like it’s finally coming.
Teachers could accomplish something similar today by adding files or folders from an external SharePoint document library, where permissions are separate from those within the team. It is however a cumbersome process so baking this into Teams makes perfect sense.
Different assessment grade/points formats
Custom grading like pass, fail etc. is also something that teachers have been requesting for some time.
Make sure to follow the uservoice links to vote, and leave your email address if you would like to be updated with any changes in status going forward.
That is all for now, If you like my work please share in social media and or in the comments below.