School-wide roll out: What works and what doesn't?

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Frequent Contributor

Recently, like so many other schools, we had to roll out Microsoft Teams on a school-wide scale. There wasn't much time to upskill educators - so we gave the most basic training of what is available in Teams and how to use it. We did provide some guidelines with organization but didn't really prescribe them. I've witnessed how teachers who have had to organize their curriculum in teams did it in so many varied ways and with the increase of content, in many cases, the entropy of the system increased exponentially. I could mention examples, but will refrain from doing so.

 

Well, after a few months of this, we are at a point of reflection on what worked and what didn't and what is the way forward? My own question is "How to keep Teams organized?" What is best practice? What works and what doesn't?

 

How should the teams relate to the subjects and classes?

  • Do you create one team for the whole grade and separate subjects into channels?
  • Do you create a team for each subject in each grade?

We have used both approaches, the first for lower grades and the second for higher grades. Although the first approach appears to provide a simpler user experience, I prefer the second approach. If it would be implemented in a systematic way, the second approach would not add much complexity and gives much more scope for a teacher to organize their content. Furthermore, using a mixed model brings about confusion when training teachers, especially when they are involved in both approaches.

 

How do you best use the channels for organizing content?

I came across this video clip by Dr David Kellerman where he very succinctly states the four basic approaches. We can create

  1. Weekly channels
  2. Topic based channels
  3. Channels for each activity OR
  4. Group based channels (e.g. private channels)

I'm not sure which approach is best for a school subject. Dr Kellerman prefers a weekly channel approach and I can understand why - for a university module which consists of 10 weeks or so. School subjects are taught over a year consisting of 40 teaching weeks. I'm not sure whether it is good to have so many channels. The upside of a weekly channel approach is that it would be easy to implement a consistent school-wide structure - which brings me to my next question: Should one impose a uniform approach across the whole school or allow individual approaches?

 

Another issue is that private chatting can either be switched on or off for learners. There is no setting that allows private chatting between teachers and learners only. We have opted to switch it off. This unfortunately prevents that personal conversation which is necessary between teacher and learner. Someone (my daughter) pointed out that one could use private channels to overcome this limitation. This would, however, only be practical in smaller class size settings.

 

Teams Assignments is another area where there can be huge disparities. I don't want to go into this now - I think I have said enough - only, here is some support documentation which describes the workflow aspects of Assignments, which I think is crucial to both teacher and student to understand.

 

Any thoughts, comments, insights,  questions from you with regarding to the above?

2 Replies

@Marius Pretorius

 

Hi,

 

The issue I have with creating numerous channels is that the Class Materials folder doesn't appear in the different channels.  So if I create Topic based channels and try to put supporting files in the Files tab then by default the documents can be easily edited or deleted by the students.  Unless I manually go into Sharepoint and adjust the permissions.   (Which is doable, but it's an extra step which overwhelms some staff. )

 

The same issue occurs if I were to do weekly channels.   However for the same reasons you mentioned,  weekly channels don't fit so well into schools.   I'm more likely to have 10 topics,  each spanning about 4 weeks long.

 

Small Group channels are an interesting idea that I've never tried.   Probably more suited to older students.  I think I'd prefer to be able to set Teams Assignments to a small group of students so that they could work together on tasks.     Again,  there are various work arounds to this.  None of which are as smooth as a teacher or student would want.   

 

On a side note....  I'd especially love to be able to set a Blank whiteboard within Teams assignments to groups of students to help them brain storm.  ( @Ian Mikutel ).   I wonder how this might work also with Breakout rooms coming to teams.    Imagine if there could be a huge white board split in Segments for each breakout group.  Then when you come back together you'll be able to see the whole thing.


Overall,  Teaching with Teams has been really good.  I feel that various small things in all of the place that aren't quite right yet.  For example,  if there are 5 history classes that should all be doing the identical work then Should they be in one team or five,

 

Option One If they are all put into One team then obviously they can all share the same Files tab.   (But then hosting Teams Video call meetings is horrendous as students would be getting lots and lots of extra meeting invitations because you can't easily invite only groups of students,  whilst still hosting within a channel. 

 

Option Two Whereas if they are Five separate teams then they would have 5 separate Files Tabs.   But theres no easy way to cross post files to all file tabs at a time.  (OneNote and Assignments can both do cross distribution though)

 

Option Three: Have five teams, then also create an extra Sharepoint all 5 classes.  But where should this sharepoint exist.      Or would it be better to use some form of Moodle.

 

I'd love to hear further feedback on how this situation is tackled by others and what they suggest.

 

 

I could go on all day about odd quirks here and there as to how it all works.  Definitely room for improvement in both my understanding of how should be implemented, and also some room for improvement from MS in simplifying some stuff.   These are necessarily easy questions to solve and I appreciate the effort from MS to continually refine these processes

 

 

This is a good exposition of the Many options that we can design and organice the assignaments, i use organice in a set of activities than i need intégrate for a evaluation and calificate and then assign a calification, but may be near to 12 assignaments for unit and then semestre are 4 to 7 units. but is very good way to use Sharepoint may be more organized and flexibillity.