Soar into 2020 with 12 new Microsoft Teams for Education updates
Published Dec 09 2019 10:00 AM 69K Views

As we look back on an action-packed 2019, we’re most thankful for how far we’ve come in our ability to support educators in teaching and learning—all thanks to your generous feedback and insightful ideas. Here’s a recap of the big changes and improvements we created together: At BETT 2018, we announced 13 Teams updates that transform classroom time. In June, we were thrilled to roll out a new, simpler way to interact with your teams, plus lots of other helpful back-to-school updates. Finally, in August, we unveiled more improvements to our Assignments and Grading experiences so that going forward, assessments are easier for both teachers and students.


Each update meant lots of refining to make everything exactly right, and you were with us every step of the way. Thank you.  As the calendar year ends, we’re introducing even more features and improvements ! From setting up your class team to managing your communication, Teams has got you covered for the rest of the school year.


Set up your classes first, admit students later

Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) enables automatic creation of all your class teams using the data found in your school's student information system.  With early teacher access to classes, you now have time to set up assignments, add files, and get organized before your students begin using the SDS-created team. Once your class team is ready to go, simply click “Activate” and that’s it! You control when students have first access to the class. Early teacher access to classes will be gradually rolling out this month.



Sync Teams assignments and grades to PowerSchool with Grade Sync – now available!

Using PowerSchool SIS for grades?  Sync your assignments and grades directly to PowerSchool PowerTeacher Pro with Grade Sync and save yourself a step. Learn how to setup today, here!



Weekly assignments summary email for parents and guardians

Now, share your students’ progress and upcoming assignments directly with their parents and guardians. When Parent and Guardian Emails are turned on, they’ll receive a weekly summary email that shows assignment progress from last week and approaching due dates on the next. IT Admins can setup this feature today by onboarding to the new Parent and Guardian sync from Microsoft School Data Sync. As a teacher, you can turn the feature on and off in your team’s settings.




New Assignment settings in Teams admin center

We’re also introducing new IT admin settings to better manage Teams Assignments. With the new Assignment settings in the Microsoft Teams admin center, easily enable or disable features for students and teachers within your school. These include the weekly guardian assignments email, and app integrations like MakeCode and Turnitin. IT admins can learn more here.





More control over your communication

Channel Cross Posting

Share an announcement far and wide. With channel cross posting, you can post a single message in multiple channels at the same time. When composing a channel post, enable the Formatting options, then click “Post to multiple channels” and “Select channels.” Simply select all the channels you’d like to post in.  No more tedious copying and pasting across multiple sections of the same class!

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Private channels

Need to limit the conversation to a small group within a Staff or Professional Learning Community (PLC) team OR want to create a focused space for group projects? Set up private channels within existing teams so only the educators or students you select can participate. Create a private channel by selecting “Private” under the privacy settings of the new channel.



Continue transforming your assessments with more tools and insights

Assignment History

Now you can see all the dates and progress regarding a student’s submission. See when students viewed the assignment, turned it in, and more.



This one is very exciting, you can view and grade all assignments from a class directly from the channel Grades tab! The new gradebook is a straightforward way to organize assignments and view grades for each class. Gradebook is in beta today and we will be expanding to worldwide availability over the coming weeks.



Within the gradebook, you can view an individual student’s progress on their assignments in class and observe patterns in their performance over time.


Customize your assignment times

We heard from many educators that you want to customize all the dates and times that are important to the assignment. Now you can customize down to the minute the scheduled, due, and close times.



Turnitin Assignments Integration

Teachers can now check student submissions for multiple forms of plagiarism right within Teams using Turnitin. With our new integration, Turnitin subscribers will have access directly from Teams Assignments! Early access is now available to Turnitin subscribers by signing up here.



New file viewer

Students and teachers now have more space to view and edit content within Teams, which is crucial for students with limited space on their screens. We've simplified the headers in the file content viewing experience when working on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents.



We can’t wait to meet thousands of inspiring educators at #Bett2020 in London next month. If you’re going to be there, too, be sure to stop by the Microsoft booth to explore all these updates in person and say hello. We’d love to hear what you think.


Can’t make it to BETT? No sweat! We will be sharing daily updates from the conference floor so stay tuned and make sure to engage with @MicrosoftEDU on Twitter


Thanks again for all you do both in and outside your classrooms. As always, we’re committed to bringing you the very best when it comes to serving your students’ learning in Teams.


Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando  Great Work! When are these features being rolled out? Especially for us at New Zealand - Southern Hemisphere! It would be an awesome start to Teams School year in 2020 with these great features.


Thank you @Sam Roberts! Almost everything is available today! Gradebook is in beta and we will roll it out further over the coming weeks. We're all looking forward to a great back to school in the southern hemisphere! 

Awesome work Justin, I shared it on Social Media and send a email with the link to some Teachers in the Netherlands :cool:

Regular Visitor

Great stuff Justin, any discussions about adding Percent of Final Grade to the GradeBook capabilities? 

Occasional Contributor

I'd like to know when Teams for Education will have something similar to Google Backpack. One of the biggest issues we're having at the moment is that student work / assessments now resides in the team rather than in the student OneDrive or in a student Portfolio. As we move to greater student agency and choice we will no longer have linear teams and year groups but students will join a team, prove their proficiency and then be graded and move to a higher level. 

At the moment they can't take their evidence of learning with them easily. 

Senior Member

@IntlNadine I get around this by creating a class Notebook inside Teams. Student work can be added there. It gives them more permanence, plus the ability to create a portfolio, but assumes I’m not going to delete the notebook. I agree some way of linking student based notebooks to different teachers’ class Teams would be a major benefit.

Senior Member

@Justin Chando  I am very much looking forward to the Gradebook tab. One question, can I make that private to me? I wouldn’t want students seeing each others’ grades. When will this roll out? I’m one of next week’s hosts for the final Microsoft teachers’ tweet meet of 2019 and would like to talk about this development.

On another matter, do you know if Data Sync works with ISAMS? I’m in the UK and haven’t been able to find out if it works, and if so, how to do it.


All the best, 






@Svanstraten the grades tab is only for the Teacher of the class (team owner). When students go to the grades tab the only see their own grades, never other students. We are gradually rolling this out over the coming weeks! 

New Contributor

This is a very positive step. One more thing though, could we make it possible for teachers to close the Conversations tab? It's not an appropriate feature for younger children and there are definite safeguarding issues in terms of what they are saying and sharing. A teacher should be able to choose to make conversations available or not. It's a great feature for older students but one fraught with difficulty for younger ones and manually vetting comments and removing inappropriate ones is really time consuming. 


@Justin Chando. Awesome work. I look forward to all of these things.


@James_Waring  I agree mass student conversation threads arent good for middle years students. The conversations tab can be controlled. You can turn off all or individual students from being able to comment on the conversations tab.   It's not hard to do, but it would be nice if thr settings could be easily adjusted right in the conversations tab without going hunting in the team settings.


The neat thing about muting students is they can still particpate in surveys/polls the teacher puts up.


The other feature that would help the conversations tab is the ability to censor swear words etc.  and being able to stop images or file uploads, but still allow students to comment.


Other settings could be that students are only able to reply to threads where their teacher has tagged them.


Maybe also that students can only make comments if they are tagged towards the teacher.

The comment might be hidden until the teacher approves it.



Occasional Visitor
When setting assignments in Teams, am I right in thinking that I can't set a collaborative document (i.e. students edit their own copy or students can't edit - no option for students all edit same file). Is this coming or do I need to use the Class Notebook for this instead? Thanks :)
Occasional Contributor

@Craig374 this is one of the options we're also looking for, especially as we move to group work especially in Physical Education.

Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando where can we learn more about the better ways to use Teams for Education? I've just gone through the badging for teams, but this is a different ball game.


Other members of the group - what are best practices? Do you create a team per teacher or subject with channels per class or a team per subject per grade per teacher? Or a team per teacher per class? 


Can you see where I'm going? We only have 370 students but we have 48 teachers and 12 subjects (of which the 3 languages each have 3 levels) and 3 grades (17 classes), so you can see the permutations of how many potential teams we have? If each subject, teacher and class has a team I make it 306 teams .... which quickly becomes quite difficult to manage, particularly when you're also needing to add admin staff to teams in case the owner inadvertently deletes the team, and the students don't "own" their work but it's in the team sharepoint. 


If we use channels what would the best way be to use them? Bear in mind I'm dealing with middle schoolers who are not the most organised of beings.

New Contributor

@IntlNadine we've had the same issues with deciding how to separate teams up and I'm still not 100% on the best way. We have several teachers teaching the same course with the same materials but to different classes. At the moment we've used a single team for each year group otherwise we had to create assessments and sections/materials for each one separately. It now means that we have to pick out out students from the list of the whole year and assess their work. There are ample opportunities for the students to fall through the gaps

Occasional Contributor

And has anyone else switched on the Moodle Integration yet?



Have you looked at the Teacher Training Pack website


Teams it self will work in many configurations.  I think the bigger issue is deciding how you want the Class Notebook to be setup,  this is probably the greater concern that will then affect how you want to set up your teams.  It's very hard to know what is the best method.   


Next year my school is rolling it out to two year levels, about 250 students.   I was initially keen to do have only 5 teams per year level done by homegroup,  eg,  Yr 7A,   Yr 7B,  Yr 7C,  Yr 7D,  and year 7D.    Each team would be shared by their Math, English, Science teachers.     It would mean each student is in only one team.   When a new student arrives at school throughout the year they only need to be added to one team.   But we decided against that because Teams Assignments does support multiple grade books.  We also had difficulty setting up section group distribution in the class notebook.   


Then we wondered about have 5 teams per year done by subject eg.   Year 7 English,   Year 7 Math   etc.           For example the Year 7 English team would have 125 students and all the English teachers.     This idea had alot of merit,  but again we weren't happy about Assignments and Class Notebook


We ended up deciding that we'd one team per class subject.   So in other word,  we'll have heaps of team.   Yr 7A English,   7A Math,  7A Science  etc.        We won't be sure yet if that's the right decision,  but it's good enough to get us started.  It's going to be a big learning curve for us all.   Certainly the administration is much harder.  When a new student comes to school they needed to then be added to 5 teams  etc.



Having said all that... 

* I do wonder what the "Category" function of the Teams Assignments does and how this will be incorporated into the new grade book.  perhaps it will better support multiple subjects to share a team. 

* Assignments does allow you to individually select students when assigning assignments.  It would be nice if you could set groups for this.

* About two months ago Microsoft did announce new abilities to do section group distribution in Class Notebook,  so perhaps the issue we had with that has been resolved.


We'll review next year and reassess  



The key annoyance we now have is just with enrolling students.  There are a few strategies for that

A) School Data Sync is an option for some schools.   But not ours unfortunately

B) All teachers could just manually invite their students   (time consuming)

C) All teachers use the Join Code feature in their first class for the year.     - This is what we're going to do.


There are a few things I think Microsoft could do to improve this process:

A) Allow teams to match their membership.   Eg.   If you are Member of 07A English then you automatically become a member of 07A Math 

B) Perhaps this could be done using user groups like sharepoint does.. or

C) Perhaps it could be done with some kind of super Join code that enables users to join multiple teams at once.



Either way,   I'm super excited for the ups, downs and challenges that will come next year.   There's enormous scope to do some great learning activities with the students.  I expect the first month to be very difficult.   Microsoft have shown that they are rapidly improving the platform too, which is a good sign of further improvements to come

Occasional Visitor

@Craig374 What I've done to have students work on the same document collaboratively is put the assignment in Teams. One person in the group opens/starts the document, saves it in OneDrive on Office 365, and shares the document with the rest of the group members. Now all students in the group can work on the document at the same time on their own computer and the work is updated in Teams as they work. This would probably only work if you have Office 365, though.


@Craig374   @Justin Chando 


Interesting, Craig,   you are wanting to set a group assignment.      I don't think that can be done.      It would an awesome assignment feature.


I see it working two ways

A) Teacher sets the groups in advance

B) Teacher enables a function to allow students to choose members of their group.  The teacher would set the minimum and maximum group sizes. The teacher would also choose if the group of students all share the same marks or if it will be marked individually.

Then when a student see's the assignment for the first time it will have a prompting question tell them that they need to invite a partner.     The new partner would need to accept the request.


Neat idea


There is a UserVoice for this that you should vote for

Occasional Visitor

@saleenluver, that's an interesting approach - will try that one out thanks.

Occasional Visitor

@Angus McPherson that's a really interesting idea :)  I wasn't thinking that adventurously to be honest, just the ability to share for everyone to pitch in to one assigned document.




Ive recently read about teachers planning to put groups of students into different private channels and then just putting documents in the files section.  

Its a good idea for groups of students that will be at a similar task for extended periods of time.  Maybe for differentiated levels.


Perhaps all you really need is just to create several folders in the files section for your work.


Dinosaur Project 

- Group One: Jack & Jane

- Group Two: Sam & Sally

- Group Three: Tom and Trish

- etc



The issue there is that any student in the class could edit files from any group.  


Technically you can controll the permissions if you open in Sharepoint. It's not too hard to do.  But it is still harder than it should be.  It should be a simple process that can be done within teams. 


Teachers shouldn't have to be a tech whizz to be able to create restricted folders

Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando @Angus McPherson the links on for teams lead to an error ... every single one of them ... can someone update that?Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 17.29.21.png



Good point.  The education website of Microsoft has just been overhauled.  So all the links are broken.  I hope it gets fixed soon. 

Occasional Visitor
For the students view of the new "Grades" tab, it would be great if there was an extra column for the teacher feedback given for each assignment. For me, this is much more important than the grade!
Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando These are great updates that are going to make Teams that much more useful for our teachers here in the Western Quebec School Board in Canada.


One question regarding private channels.  Is it possible for the owner of a Team to set up a private channel for other members, but not have access to the content themselves?  I know that I could allow my members to create a private channel themselves and not add me as a member, but I would ideally like to set up these private channels ahead of time for some of our PLGs and I should not have access to the content.


Let me know if you get a chance.  Thanks!

@saleenluver @Craig374 

Great thoughts on sharing for groupwork.

I'm looking into SharePoint as the place for storing collaborative files. As every Team has space in a SharePoint, would it be better to train students to save in an appropriate folder / channel rather than save to their own OneDrive? 

Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando now that we're fully into online learning we're running into all sorts of "interesting" questions on teams usage and also a few frustrations. For example ... when you set a meeting via the calendar, as long as you invite everyone in the group, all their Outlook Calendars get updated BUT when you set and assignment - even if you put in the date, it doesn't seem to be updating their calendars ... is there something we're doing wrong?

The teachers are definitely adding the dates and it "looks" like it's in a calendar, but it's not. We need to make sure that students aren't overloaded with all assignments due on the same day! In the "real" world when we weren't doing everything online, we had Assessment calendars for each grade that students would put dates into, we've now added these calendars as students into the teams so that they get calendar invites for online meetings so that there isn't a clash between meetings with different subjects, BUT the assignments in each team is NOT updating either the teacher / student or group calendar ... Any ideas?

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 1.24.10 AM.png

Occasional Contributor

@Justin Chando another question - and it's probably a "no" knowing the complicated architecture behind teams and the sharepoint supporting it - but teachers created a bunch of teams before the "private channel" option was a possibility. So for example we have 6x G7 PHE teams each with a separate team, but now we'd rather have one G7 PHE team with 6 private channels with each of the classes in the channel but all the students in the "general" channel. So is there any way to merge teams? This is the problem x lots and lots of teams.... 


Hi @IntlNadine - Assignments Dates going on the calendar is actually our top UserVoice request. It’s not anything you’re missing , it just doesn’t work that way today. You can upvote it on UserVoice and stay updated as we make progress:

As far as merging teams into private channels that is not possible today. 

Occasional Visitor

@Justin Chando in Grades you can now assign points for each assignment. But doesn't it need weighting and totaling of each assignment? Is that possible to do? Also can you somewhere see the outcome of the course for every student, the final grade after each assignment has been returned/graded?

Occasional Contributor

Just a comment and question on OneNote ... we've finally managed to convince one of our departments to move over from Evernote to OneNote for Classrooms within the Teams Classroom ecosystem over the coming months. However, the old (2016 I think) conversion tool,  doesn't seem to be functioning as desired and is no longer supported.

Since Evernote is no longer China Friendly, it would seem like an excellent moment to get that tool up and running again? From my limited view of what's going on, it seems like it cannot cope with Evernote Notes that have embedded docx or pdf files. 

Copying everything over for 2 subjects, 3 grades and an average of 4-6 units with 15-20 notes in each file is quite a daunting undertaking! I've done it for  one subject in one day and it took an entire day and the images didn't always transfer well and the docx/pdf files had to be done manually.

Any help on the horizon?

@Justin Chando 


J'aimerais modifier le nom des sections dans Class Book note et c'est impossible, pourquoi ?

Je peux changer dans le code, mais il ne s'enregistre pas....

Merci de votre aide

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