Has Teams saved the day?
Possibly! Since the beginning of lockdown, we’ve seen a significant number of schools making full use of their existing Office 365 licenses by activating MS Teams as an online learning environment.
For those of you who haven’t got going with Teams yet, in this article we are going to explore and answer some of the most common questions schools have prior to activating and using Teams:
Microsoft Teams is an online collaboration space. It combines the text and video services you will recognise from Skype; the online storage drive of SharePoint; OneNote notebooks for the class and the MS Forms survey and quiz creation tool.
As Teams is an Office 365 product, anyone with access to a schools’ Teams will also have full access to the online versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook; which they can use to teach, or learn, from home with.
The benefit of Teams is that it brings all these Office 365 tools into a single area, and schools can setup a different Team for each subject, year group, class and more.
Teams is part of Microsoft Office 365, which is available for free to all schools. Your school might already be using Office 365, for example for e-mail. If you’re unsure, Schools ICT can help you check and even help you sign up for Office 365 if needed.
Once you have Office 365, you are able to access Teams via the WebApp, or by downloading the Desktop App. Setting up your Teams can be a manual process, inviting individuals to join each Team, or an automated one based on your MIS information, or other data sources such as .csv files.
Teams allows teachers to share learning in a controlled environment. They may share a PowerPoint with a voiceover, or a video and use the conversation tool to share that update with the class. Follow this with a self-marking form and the assessment of learning can be streamlined for all.
By using the assignments tool, a teacher can set particular work and review it when it is submitted, enabling pupils to receive personalised feedback in a timely manner and staff to manage their workload too.
There is capacity for live lessons to be delivered through the video conversation tool and multiple channels can be created within a Team to allow teachers and pupils to compartmentalise their learning activities.
Finally, each class Team comes with a Class Notebook. In a Class Notebook, the teacher, as Team owner, will be able to see everything, with each pupil having their own area. However, the pupils will only see their own space and any shared areas they have access to, making teamworking easy too.
"Teams is making a huge difference to the way that we can deliver an education solution to our families during these unprecedented times and hopefully into the future. Although changing to remote learning with everything stored in the cloud is initially challenging for staff, I have been extremely impressed with the way that they have adapted. The support that we have received from Schools ICT has been exceptional. I'd encourage any school to consider whether it could work for them."
Mr. M White
Executive Headteacher, Synergy Schools
Though there are settings which can be applied by the administrator which can be used to ‘lock down’ the platform for users, it is better to have school rules discussed and put in place to ensure a safe and sensible working environment for all. With children and young people accessing Teams at home with their parents or carers nearby, it is as much about people management as platform management.
Schools and staff should be clear on their expectations and no-one should feel pressured into using any of the tools in Teams, for example online video, if it is not absolutely necessary. Useful safeguarding advice has been prepared by the London Grid for Learning, including delivering lessons via livestream or video meetings. The guidance can be found here: https://coronavirus.lgfl.net/safeguarding.
Pupils need to be informed how to contact a named member of staff if they are being affected by bullying online aligned to safeguarding arrangements for home learning. Staff need to follow the school’s agreed policy for recording and responding to the reported incident. Support for pupils can be accessed at https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/types-bullying/bullying-cyberbullying/ and anti-bullying alliance has information to support schools, pupils and parents https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/
For more general online safety information, resources, activities and guidance you should visit the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) website. They have an #OnlineSafetyAtHome pack, which is now available for you to share with parents and carers. All of their home activity packs will remain available on their parents and carers website for you to download at any time you choose.
Microsoft do their best to ensure privacy, security and compliance with your data. You can find out more at https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/trust-center , though the statement below covers it well, with more information available via the link:
“As a customer of Office 365, you own and control your data. Microsoft does not use your data for anything other than providing you with the service that you have subscribed to. As a service provider, we do not scan your email, documents, or teams for advertising or for purposes that are not service-related. Microsoft doesn’t have access to uploaded content. Like OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, customer data stays within the tenant. You can check out more about our trust and security related information at the Microsoft Trust Center. Teams follows the same guidance and principles as the Microsoft Trust Center.”
GDPR itself is a set of principles which can be breached by a person being careless with the information they have (eg cc:-ing an email to a group of parents instead of bcc:-ing the group). If your school has significant worries about Teams you should seek legal guidance and/or check with your designated Data Protection Officer before proceeding.
In brief: Your data is as safe as it can be. To ensure GDPR compliance schools may wish to email out a specific consent request to use Teams before generating Teams accounts, but this shouldn’t be necessary if the school has student email addresses already and has an existing home-school agreement in place for use of online learning tools.
You should revisit the policy documents in school which refer to safeguarding and use of technology, ensuring these have suitable details in them regarding online safety and remote learning. You should also check your consents for using pupil information in online learning tools and share new or updated consent requests if your existing ones are not suitable. More guidance can be found here at: https://cyps.northyorks.gov.uk/online-safety
Schools ICT have a Teams service, where we can set up a school environment for you and import your MIS data directly into Teams, creating an interactive Teams environment for you with minimal disruption or stress.
If you’d like to talk to someone about our Teams service, or any of our other products, please contact us on:
Phone: 01609 536086 (Option 1)