Microsoft O365 provides a suite of productivity applications for business and education customers. At the core are the storage, communication and collaboration tools. OneDrive uses SharePoint at its back-end and it provides personal storage space for staff and students. In essence, it is replacing the requirement for personal network drives and so can save expenditure on server space. Additionally, it removes the use of pen drives and e-mail for transferring files, providing anywhere, anytime, any device access to personal working documents. You can share and collaborate on files through OneDrive but we would recommend this to be an informal arrangement between peers rather than being a sharing/collaboration tool for departments and classes. SharePoint is an industrial strength Intranet, communication and collaboration tool that features ability to build web pages with widgets , and establish document libraries. Many schools are using SharePoint to build their Intranet but it is a time consuming operation that demands time in development and maintenance, not to mention considerable knowledge about how SharePoint works.
Step in to Teams
Teams is a rapidly developing app that Microsoft is using as a competitor to Google Classroom. It is in fact an interface for SharePoint. When you create a Team it automatically creates a SharePoint Group in the background. Teams has many advantages . It has been designed to facilitate communication collaboration and storage for logical teams. For example , a teacher and their classes, departments or ad hoc groups such as sports teams. In particular, Microsoft has developed Teams as a rival to Google Classroom. Watch our introduction to Teams :
Since we made this video Microsoft has been moving the product on and recently published information about upgrades to Teams in its Education Community Newsletter . In summary these are
- Grade Sync, which automatically sends grades from Teams Assignments directly to your Student Information System, saving teachers lots of time. Grade Sync will be coming to systems like Capita SIMS and other school information systems soon.
- Mobile Grading – Teachers can now grade on mobile devices using the app for iOS and Android.
- Turnitin Integration – Turnitin allows teachers to check student submissions for multiple forms of plagiarism and helps teach the value of academic integrity, proper attribution, and authentic writing. With Microfts new integration, coming soon, Turnitin subscribers will have access directly within Teams Assignments!
- Free Computer Science Curriculum in Teams with MakeCode! Microsoft will soon kick off a beta which will allow teachers to access MakeCode, Microsoft’s free platform for creating engaging computer science activities directly within Teams Assignments.
- Moodle LMS integration in Teams! For schools using Moodle, the integration in Teams helps educators bring their students, conversations and content — along with their Moodle courses and assignments — together in one single hub.
- Read-only files folder, Class Materials. Share reference materials by easily dropping these files into the folder called ‘Class Materials,’ which is read-only by default.
- Join a team by code on your mobile device. – Microsoft have now added the ability to use a code to join a Team to the iOS and Android apps. Previously this was a PC only function.
- Customize chat settings for students and faculty – allow student-to-teacher chat, while having the option to prevent students from chatting with each other. This setting can be made by IT admins.
- Rubric sharing – Rubric or grade criteria marking has been an established feature. ot Teams but now Microsoft has added a new capability that allows teachers to import and export their favourite rubrics from Teams Assignments. Now you can share great rubrics with other teachers and build on each other’s ideas from year to year, for stronger and more robust curricula.
- Categorize your Assignments – you can now categorize Assignments. Assignment categories are an easy way to organize your assignment by type – segment by Homework, Quizzes, or a unit of study.
- Safari browser support – you will soon beable to use Teams in MacOS and on the iPad through the Safari browser.
- Access ThingLink right from Microsoft Teams – With ThingLink now built into Microsoft Teams, students will be able to create and view interactive images, videos and 360-degree virtual tours in the Microsoft Teams environment.
Here at Gaia we think that this all adds up to a pretty powerful package. If you want help establishing use of Teams in your school get in touch today and we will provide a free half day consultancy to help you build a development , change and training programme.