Microsoft Teams continues march towards a full LMS replacement

    This week we brought you a story about a Sydney lecturer at UNSW who was using Microsoft to great effect in his large-scale course. To help Kellerman and other teachers with their efforts in delivering Teams in Education, the product is getting even more new features.

    Microsoft say they’ve been amazed by the successes of educators over these past two years, at every grade level who use Teams to assign work and leave impactful feedback that helps students achieve more. Given many education providers are also Microsoft shops, this isn’t entirely surprising to me and most LMS’ aren’t great, so having a modern platform designed for modern methods of rapid group communication, Teams is a great fit.

    There’s also the price tag which is very inviting in an environment where schools, TAFE’s and Universities are being asked to do more with less. Teams is part of Office 365 for Education which is free to all schools worldwide

    Teams announced today a number of new improvements that goes another step closer to having Teams replacing your LMS all together. This builds on the great work done back in June where the product added significantly to the featureset for education.

    A fastermore streamlined design 

    Teams now has a redesigned Assignments section, based on feedback from educators, the Assignments tab now shows a clear view of what’s coming up next.

    Microsoft suggests you should think of this as your “to do” list. If you’re a teacher, this means work you have left to review or grade. For students, that means approaching due dates. 

    It’s easy to assign engaging learning activities  

    The assignment creation experience also gets a rethink, with a new single-column layout. Details are now grouped in a more intuitive way, another response to feedback. 

    One of the advantages of moving to a single-column layout is that it provides more screen real estate for a larger canvas to view and edit documents and more screen space to create the perfect grading rubric. 

    Add assignment resources from any team 

    Working on a lesson plan in a Staff or PLC team? When it’s ready to assign, simply select Add resources on your assignment and choose it from the file picker. No need to move your content between teams. 

    See what your students see  

    Student View now lets you preview the experience as a student would. This feature is quite common in legacy LMS software and helps diagnose problems before your students ever see them. Just click the new Student view option and you’re there. 

    Add Close dates to your assignments 

    When you want to get serious about due dates, you can set assignment close dates. This allows assignments to become available in the future on a scheduled date and time, as well as a due date, you can now specify when you want to close turn-ins, too. 

    No submissions will be allowed after the close date, granting you more flexibility on if/when you’ll accept late or revised work from students. 

    Assign content from your favorite education apps using the Share to Teams button 

    When inspiration for lesson content can come from anywhere, the new Share to Teams feature makes it simple to create assignments or send links to your class directly from your favorite education apps and learning resources.  

    A number of Education applications are already integrated into Teams. You’ll now find ‘Share to Teams’ buttons in Kahoot, Flipgrid, Buncee, Wakelet, Pear Deck,, SoundTrap, Kano, and many more. 

    If you’re an Edtech developer interested in adding your own Share to Teams button, Microsoft have more info here to get started.

    Use Immersive Reader to read assignment instructions and feedback 

    When it’s challenging to read the assignment instructions, it can be difficult for students to share their best work. Immersive Reader implements proven techniques to improve reading for students regardless of their age or ability. Teams now has an integrated Immersive Reader for all student assignment instruction pages.

    Bring Microsoft MakeCode computer science activities to your classroom 

    Assign Microsoft MakeCode activities right from Teams! MakeCode brings computer science to life for all students with fun projects, immediate results, and both block and text editors for learners at different levels.  

    Check out the live demo from the MakeCode team to see an activity in action. (IT Admins can enable MakeCode in the Teams Admin Center.)  

    Review student work in a snap 

    Select an assignment from your list. Start grading. No extra clicks necessary.  It’s also easier to tell what you have left to grade and which student assignments you’ve already graded and returned. Sort by submission status to view who’s turned in work at a glance. 

    And when you’re finished grading? It’s time to celebrate! Take a break; you deserve it. 

    Grading that goes with you 

    Our lives are increasingly mobile and teachers can also leverage that to grade Teams Assignments from anywhere on an iOS or Android device using the Teams app. In fact, Microsoft have made sure all the new assignments updates work well on mobile devices.

    Deter plagiarism and grade in one step with Turnitin 

    Regardless of the LMS, students are human and that means some creative characters. Microsoft Teams now has Turnitin support.

    Turnitin helps teach the value of academic integrity, proper attribution, and authentic writing by empowering teachers to identify similarities between student work and the world’s largest collection of internet, student papers, and academic journal content. With new integration, Turnitin subscribers can screen assignments directly in Teams.

    You can join the Early Access Program and get an exclusive opportunity to test drive the integration before it’s launched more broadly. (You must have a Turnitin license.) 

    Teams Gradebook

    Delivering on the objective of having the an A class Assignment experience, Microsoft Teams is now building a gradebook in Teams.

    The new gradebook gives you the perspective you need on average scores on assignments and individual student progress.

    This will roll this out to beta customers soon, collecting invaluable educator feedback, before rolling out the experience to all users.

    Tips & trainings for back to school

    Get all the how-tos on the latest Teams for Education updates at the Education help center, or boost your knowledge with the new course on the Microsoft Educator Center

    One great productivity enhancement is the ability to jump into back to school prep and check out this quick tip on how to reuse all your assignments and content from last year. 

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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