By now, most schools should realise the pressing need for technology that can effectively support hybrid and remote teaching and learning. For those of you who have heard of or currently use Microsoft Teams to drive collaboration and productivity for your digital classroom, here are some of the cool tools and features that you can leverage in your digital teaching practices.
Advanced Meeting Options
Microsoft Teams meetings has even more features to run your online classes. It now gives you more granular control to reduce certain elements of chaos. With extensive Meeting Options, you can disable microphones, cameras, automatically record a session and so on. This is especially helpful when you have a lot of students joining the class at the same time or if you have particularly enthusiastic students who like to share their thoughts at inappropriate moments.
Creating your class in Teams is simple, just click on the ‘new meeting’ option in Calendar. Once you have entered the details and chosen the Teams Channel to post the meeting to, it will pop up in your calendar and Channel space. When the meeting starts, you can select “meeting options” to adjust the settings.
Create a New Meeting
Set your attendees free with Breakout Rooms for collaboration and discussion time. If you have microphone and video disabled for attendees during the session, these features will automatically be enabled when you break your students up into smaller collaboration groups.
Create a New Meeting demonstration
Breakout Rooms and Meeting Options
Standards Teams meeting will not give you an Attendee Engagement Report. To do so, you will need to set up your online class via Teams Webinar. These reports record when an attendee joined and left the session. So, if you have students present during roll call and immediately 'sneak off', you can track the duration of their attendance. This report can be downloaded and sent to your school admin or uploaded to a SharePoint site.
Breakout Rooms and Meeting Options demonstration
Noise Suppression in Teams
Microsoft Teams can detect noise levels during calls and suppresses background noise by default. You can now adjust the level of noise suppression in device settings from low, high, or off. You would set it to low if you would like others to hear your background music that is not shared through your computer. You would set it to high if your work or study space is in a noisy environment.
"Sorry for the background noise" is no longer in my vocabulary during Teams meetings as I know noise suppression is in effect while the drills, lawn mowers or children are running (or screaming) outside my home office.
Noise Suppression demonstration
Presenting with PowerPoint Live
PowerPoint Live is one of the various applications you can share directly in Teams without sharing your screen. It draws from the recently accessed PowerPoint decks from your OneDrive or SharePoint sites saving you the effort of navigating through your many folders.
As the presenter, it lessens the burden on your network bandwidth and reduces latency when you navigate between slides for a more seamless viewer experience. It also launches "Presenter Mode" simultaneously, so you can refer to your notes and see which slide is lined up next. You can also use the pen, highlighter, laser pointer or insert yourself into the slide with "standout mode" for a more interactive presentation.
PowerPoint Live Presenter View
As an attendee, you can personally navigate forwards or backwards and enable "high contrast mode", for improved accessibility, without changing the view for others. Self-navigation is useful if you want to see what is coming up or going back to a previous slide if you have missed something. This is a great feature for students who learn at different paces and users can always sync back to where the presenter is. The presenter can always disable this feature and prevent participants from moving through the presentation on their own.
PowerPoint Live Attendee View
In one-to-many Teams meetings or webinars, it is often difficult to keep track of the conversations in the chat box while you are presenting or sharing your screen. Chat bubbles now pop up over your screen so don't miss a beat. This allows you to respond to any questions or comments in real-time without compromising screen real estate and saves you from having to navigate your cursor to the chat icon when the little orange dot appears. This feature is automatically enabled for all users. Users can disable chat bubbles for themselves through the ellipsis in the tool bar.
Watch video demonstration
These are only a few of my favourite tools and features in Microsoft Teams for a better hybrid and remote teaching and learning experience. If you do use these tools and features or would like a more in-depth session on Microsoft Teams for Education or other M365 applications, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.