Learn Teams Conference 2018

Just a heads up to those of you who would like to learn more about Microsoft Teams.

On April 3-7 there will be a free online conference dedicated to Microsoft Teams, featuring brilliant Microsoft MVPs, MIEEs, Experts… and ME! ūüôā


I will talk about How to Deploy and Use Teams for Education in Your School District, and cover stuff like automated class management using School Data Sync and how to organize staff teams to increase collaboration.

I will also show you how to distribute assignments into OneNote class notebook, as well as demo how a few great 3rd party tools integrate deep into Teams to deliver a unique learning experience.


So if you’re not to busy (if you are that is actually no excuse, you can just buy unlimited access) please register at LearnTeamsConference.com to join me and all the other great speakers for what is going to be a fantastic community event.

Hope to see you there! ūüôā

Teams + Skooler, better together – part 2

In Teams + Skooler,  better together Рpart 1, readers were introduced to Skooler and shown how their absence and assignments tools integrate with Microsoft Teams. Today I will show you their Dashboard tab, the Week plans tool, and give you a sneak peek of the newly released Skooler app for parents.


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In the above screenshot I am logged on as a teacher seeing the Dashboard tab in expanded view. In the menu on the left you have access to all the learning apps from Skooler, and on the right you have a nice overview of todays absence, expiring assignments and more.


While access to a dashboard like this is nice, I prefer tabs focusing on spesific tasks. Let’s check out Skoolers Week plans tab for Microsoft Teams!

2018-03-17 15_26_10-Week plans _ Skooler (usa)

Opening the Skooler Week plans tab within the class team will give you a nice overview of published plans, or week letters as Skooler calls them in this view. You get a simple list with columns for title, week, date and time published, the document attachment itself as well as the groups the letters themselves belong to.

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Clicking the¬†New week letter¬†button will allow you to create and publish a new week plan, I won’t go into great details but you need to add a title, choose week number and the number of weeks the plan is for, as well as uploading the actual week plan document(s) and add any links to online resources as well as learning goals.

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If one or more students have individual week plans, there is also an option in the bottom to remove students from the pre populated list.

The actual week plan document is typically created in Word based on a template and uploaded by clicking Upload week letter.


When the week plan is published it will be available for students within the class team (below image) as well as in the parent app.

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Student view of the week plan.

Teachers can also edit any existing week plans, as well as unpublish and then delete it.

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Skooler Parents app

The Skooler Parents app is available on iOS and android and as usual you download and install it from either the App Store or Google Play. My demo is based on the iOS version using an iPhone.


The first time you launch the app you will need to search for and pick your school.



The app will open in the Assignments view, giving you a nice overview of next weeks assignments followed by coming assignments.

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If you click the name of the child you will be able to select another child if you have more than one at the same school.

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Clicking an assignment will open it in details view, where parents can see the title, due date, grade scale, what subject the assignment is in as well as a description.



Navigating back and into the Assesments tab assessments from earlier assignments are available.

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Opening an assessment gives you a similar view as for the assignment, but instead of the description you see the grade and a comment section with feedback from the teacher.


Choosing Weekplan in the menu in the bottom gives you list of week plans.

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Click one to see the details, these are the same as we saw earlier in the Week plan tab within the class team.

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If you click the attached document the app opens it in a Word Online view. Unfortunately it doesn’t scale that well, and there is no pinch to zoom, so you will need to scroll a bit in order to see everything.

IMG_0054 2018-03-17 16_34_04


The app also has messages, there is no dedicated Skooler messages tab for Teams as of this writing, but you can reach it from within the Skooler Dashboard tab (shown in the beginning of this post).

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Click to open a message.



A huge limitation of the messages feature is that parents are only able to read messages, and respond to actionable messages with a predetermined set of answers like yes or no, not write their own. There is an option to email the teacher, but two way messaging would be much better and could potentially eliminate the need for a dedicated messaging service.


Absence is a feature known from Teams + Skooler,  better together Рpart 1, in this view parents get a nice overview of their childs absence with any comments added by teachers.

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Last but not least is the Status page, giving a summary of reviews, assessments and more.

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That wraps up this second part of Teams + Skooler, better together. I hope to write more about Skooler when they release more learning tools in Teams, and also plan to write about other learning tools vendors integrating with Microsoft Teams in the future.

If you appreciate my work please share on social media or comment below, and if there is something you think I should write about please let me know!

Teams + Skooler, better together – part 1

So you’ve started using Teams for Education, but miss features for attendance, weekly plans, individual learning plans (ILP) and parent insights? In this blog post I will show you how you can supplement Microsoft Teams for Education with learning management tools from Skooler.


Thougt Microsoft Teams could replace your current learning management system?

That depends on what you require for managing learning, many will however need more than what is currently available out of the box.

The good thing though, if you have already chosen Microsoft Teams as your hub for teamwork and collaboration, is that one of its true strenghts is the way partners can integrate deeply into the service with supplementing features like those listed above.

Let’s see how one partner, LMS provider Skooler, make their tools available inside class teams.


Skooler consists of a dashboard and tools for attendance, weekly plans, assessment, ILP, student progress, assgignments and a parent portal.

At the time of writing the Skooler app for Microsoft Teams is in version 1.1, and includes a dashboard tab as well as tabs for absence, assignments and weekly plans. Tabs for the rest of their tools are scheduled for release in April this year.

The Skooler app is avalable in the Teams store. You can install it either by clicking the … button (show more) in the left toolbar and choose¬†More apps.

In the store searchbar type schooler, and select the Skooler app.


Or, even easier, is adding it as a tab directly in your team of choice. Just hit the plus icon…


…and search for Skooler.


In the Skooler app dialogue you will be able to choose the appropriate tab type and give it a name.



In this example I chose Absence, and hit Save.



Opening the tab will give you an overview with the students attending the class, and any absence already registered.

In the above screenshot you see the absence tool in the context of a particular course. It is however also available to add for the whole class, ie. in the General channel of a team organized with subjects as channels, showing absence from all subjects.

A grey circle is someone who has no absence registered, click once and it turns green which is documented absence, yellow is undocumented and blue is leave of absence. You also have the option to get a sneak peek of the full week (ie. to quickly see if a student was absent earlier in the week), and a description field on the right.

As you see above you get a minimal set of features, just enough to get things done, while not cluttering the view with unimportant details.

I’m often when demoing features like this, asked why teachers shouldn’t instead use the full plattform (in this case the Skooler web portal). While that certainly is a viable option, that would mean they either need to switch between two platforms or loose out of the superior collaboration features of Microsoft Teams. In my opinion Microsoft Teams should be used as a hub, connecting students, teachers and all their tools. Day to day tasks should be available through the Teams interface, together with the option to switch to fully featured apps or the original web portal for those who prefer, or need, that.


Students also see the Absence tab, but during my testing this led to the Skooler dashboard, not a student view of absence.


Skooler Assignments

While Teams for Education has an assignments app built in, this is quite basic in the current version (version 0.2), and lack the possibility to tie an assignment to learning objectives, curriculum etc. For those who prefer teams with subjects as channels, Skooler Assignments also has a lot more flexibility in the way that you can add different assignment tabs to different channels within the same team.


Let’s see what Skooler Assignments looks like within the class team.

When navigating to the Skooler assignments tab you will get an overview of recent assignments as well as buttons to create a new assignment or do a quick assessment.


Opening an assignment will give you a nice overview of the status of the assignment, like how many students has returned the assignment and how many has been assessed. You will also see a nice real time graph of the distribution of grades.


You can click to open the turned in document to review, or choose from a rich set of grading possibilities, add comments to the student, add internal comments just for teachers as well as read the students self-assessment.

Another nice feature with Skooler Assignments is the possibility to return a turned in assignment to a student with a comment, at any given time, allowing them to correct errors, adjust course or just give it a little more effort while continuously learning in a formative way.


You can also unpublish the assignment, expand the due date and more. If you need to check for plagiarism you can do that with the click of a button, Skooler integrates with both Urkund and Turnitin.

Skooler also has an app for parents, allowing them to gain insights into assignments with assessments, week plans and absence, as well as receive actionable messages from teachers.


That’s it for the first part of Teams + Skooler, better together. Stay tuned as I plan to cover more integrated learning tools in an upcoming post, as well as the Skooler bot and the parent app


In the mean time, for more information, head over to http://teams.skooler.com/

Consumer Guest Access for Microsoft Teams

In this article I will show you how to add guests not subscribing to Office 365 to your teams, discuss why this is a big deal, and show you what this looks like both for you while inviting and for those invited.


Let me start with why consumer guest access is a big deal. Up until now we have had guest access for users with a user account in Azure AD, which is the user catalog used in Office 365 and other Microsoft Cloud Services. While there were 120 million Office 365 users six months ago, the majority of those are business users.

Continuing with the education scenario, most parents certainly don’t have Office 365, and many school districts use GSuite or other services. Now that anyone with an email address can be invited into Teams, think about what that potentially could do to parent involvement and the school home relationship!

Or what about inviting coming educators from the nearby university, and teachers from other districts to collaborate on curriculum, tests, projects and more?

Teachers could create a team and share curriculum and weekly plans with parents, they could send messages using chat, publish announcements in coversations, have discussions with regards to school trips, get feedback using polls etc.

Looking forward this could be used as part of a parent portal, and when private channels become available parents could easily also be invited within the class team itself.

Consumer guest access certainly opens up a range of opportunities, let’s see how it works.

Let’s invite a guest

First navigate to the team where you want to invite guests, hit … (also commonly refered to as¬†show more) and choose¬†Add members.


Fill in an email address and click the purple box below.


You should edit the display name by clicking the pencil and correcting the name to avoid getting usernames as display names.

Admins can also edit user information using the Azure Active Directory portal, but these changes won’t come into affect immediately due to the way Teams sync and how the different clients caches such information.


When the display name is updated, send the invitation by clicking the Add button.


Team members will see a message informing that someone has been added.


What about those invited?

Moving to the recipient end, those invited will receive an email with a link leading them into the account creation process if their email address isn’t already a Microsoft Account.


Click the button Open Microsoft Teams (above), then Next (below) to begin the account creation process.


You will be asked to create a password followed by a few personal details. The username will be the email address you were invited with.

In the next step you will be propted to enter a verification code, which will arrive in your inbox.


A captcha makes sure you are not a bot, and you should be forwarded to Teams.


Inside the team guest will have a familiar experience, with conversations, files, chat etc.


Well, what are you waiting for? Start inviting those guests and take collaboration to the next level with Microsoft Teams.

Guest Access in Teams on Android

Want to switch tenants, to check on teams where you are a guest, while working on a mobile device? Read on…


While the biggest news lately regarding guest access, definetly was the announcement about guest access for consumer accounts (anyone with an email address can now be invited to join your team), another nice feature I was recently made aware of is switching tenants on an android device.


Not much to it, let’s dive right in…

First open your Teams app and hit settings in the upper left corner.



In the settings menu expand Your accounts.



You will get a list of available guest accounts.



Pick a guest account and you will be signed into the appropriate tenant.



There you are, enjoy your guest access on the go! That is if you have an Android device, since iOS isn’t supported as of this writing.

UPDATE March 14th: Tenant switching is now available also in the Microsoft Teams app on iOS.

Be productive on the go with Teams mobile apps

In this short tutorial I will show you how you can be productive on the go, using Microsoft Teams mobile apps.


During the past year or so I’ve been using Teams more and more, communicating with my team, writing technical documentation and tutorials, answering Office 365 related questions from educators and more.


While the mobile apps used to have some weaknesses, recent updates enables you to be almost as productive on a train, at the beach, or anywhere else outside the office.


On iOS, version 1.0.30 of the Teams app enabled us to share text, pictures and files from other apps in Teams.


We’ve also for quite a while been able to do video conferencing from mobile devices, both on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.


Following the education scenario, students working on a natural science project could take pictures of tree leaves, insert them into a private chat with their classmates in the same group to discuss things like what tree it’s from, and then finally save it into their class notebooks or a Teams assignment.


Let’s see what that would look like.



Take a picture, open it in Photos and hit the share button in the lower left corner.



Attach a message and hit Select in the lower right corner.


Search for and choose either a channel or a classmate as a recipient, once finished click share (see the above screenshot).


Choose whether or not you want to compress the image to save space, and the picture with the message is sent to the recipient.


To learn more about how you can add images, text or documents into an assignment, please see my recent post about Assignments in Teams mobile apps.

Also, if you’re an admin wanting to perform administrative tasks on the go, make sure to check out my post Managing Teams on the go (like a boss…).


If you think this article has room for improvement, or you simply enjoy my work, please leave a comment below, hit the like button or share in social media.


/commands, quick reply, design changes and more arrives in Teams

In this article I will give you a quick overview of the /commands, as well as show you some of the latest design updates in Teams, and the nifty new quick reply feature.

With more than 1250 votes at the time of writing, /slash commands are a top request on the UserVoice for Microsoft Teams.


While millennials (no offence) might think slash commands were invented by Teams rival Slack, my first encounter with these action specific shortcuts were actually in the early days of Internet (yeah, I’m that old), in the once so popular chat service IRC.

At the risk of making this into a history lesson, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) clients would most often connect to an open chat network, where one could join #channels. Similar to Teams, channels would keep¬†conversations organized by topics, demographics etc.¬†Slash commands like /join /away /help and /invite, were used for common tasks like… you guessed it, joining a channel or inviting a guest.

Before we jump into the /commands, lets take a quick look at the original design of the Microsoft Teams desktop or web client. In the bottom left corner you see the profile picture, which you could click to open a menu containing your availability, settings etc.


In the upper left, above all your teams, you had the search bar.


In the new design, at least as of this writing, a combined search and command bar has been moved to the top bar and centered, while the profile and availability has been placed in the top right corner, similar to the rest of the Office 365 apps.


If you place the mouse cursor in the search area the help text gives you a clear indication that you now have new options for commands, using either / or @.



Let’s first explore the /commands.


As you can see, there are 17 /commands for a range of actions, with a nice help text on the right.


Typing /files gives you a list of recent files which you can narrow down by adding a searh phrase. Clicking a file will open it within Teams, with the usual Edit button in the upper right corner.


/goto will similarly give you a list of teams and channels, to get you quickly in the right direction.


I particularly like the /whatsnew command, which will give you the release notes. Not quite up to date (at least not in my tenant), but nevertheless a nice place to get an overview of the latest features.

/available, /away, /busy and /dnd (do not disturb) is a fast way to set your availability.


What about @commands/app commands?

Typing @ in the combined search and command bar will give you options like @Images, @News or @Weather, as well as a shortcut to reach the store.


Choosing one of them for the first time will allow you to install and add the app to a team with a few options.


Once installed you need to pick a channel, and you’re good to go.



Clicking an article will open a summary, while clicking the summary opens the original site in the browser.


You can also include information from these apps, or supported partner apps found in the store, directly in chat or conversations. That means there is no need to customize and insert a screenshot or paste in a link!


I added YouTube to a channel, let’s see what we can do:


@mention the app just like you would any user, channel, team etc.



A menu pops up with the available options for the app in question.



Insert a search phrase and the app will present a list of popular videos.



Pick a video and it will be inserted into the chat or conversation, where you can continue editing the message to suit your needs.


For more information, make sure to check out the Office blogs.

Quick reply

Last but not least, let’s not forget this long awaited little timesaver; the quick reply¬†box within the chat notification!


Whenever someone send you a chat message while you’re not already in the chat itself, you get a popup right above the Windows system tray.


If you hit reply, a quick reply field opens up and lets you answer, well… quickly.

That’s all the news I have for you at this time, if you have any questions please use the comments below, or find me on Twitter (link on top of this page).