I have been playing more and more with Microsoft Teams for use in school over the last 6 months of so. My focus to date has very much been on the teacher and department side of things as opposed to the pupil and classroom side of things however there are already a number of key benefits.
One of the excellent things about MS Teams is the Conversation section. This allows comments to be shared along with documents, links, etc very much in a similar vain to you would share things via social media. Users can comment on the posts of others plus can “like” what they see. As a way for teachers to share lessons thoughts and ideas along with resources, this is easy to do plus for those who use social media the format and process will seem very familiar. For those not so engaged in social media it may take a little getting used to however not much, and as their colleagues start sharing resources and ideas they will soon be drawn in. I also see this as a key opportunity to engage such staff in social media such as twitter given the wealth of ideas and resources bouncing around out there.
A department might decide as I have done to have a weekly briefing which is shared. For me this is now published in Teams with team members invited to comment or action things in teams. This in turn has allowed us to start to reduce some of our email traffic, where email had almost become the default method of communication. As such ideas and resources might be published in teams, where I can view them when I have appropriate time as opposed to having them emailed to me as would have happened previously, where they would become just another email in amongst many emails. If I really want I can receive notifications via email, however this is at each individual users control.
Teams allows collaborative working in that files can be shared. Department staff might be invited to contribute to a joint scheme of work, with multiple staff able to concurrently access and edit a shared document. Gone are the days of heads of department having to receive individual emails and comments from their team and then collate their responses.
Through using Teams files are hosted in the cloud. This allows users to access the files from any device, anywhere. This offers a flexibility that was often achieved through the use of VPNs, remote desk or third party apps like Foldr, without the complexity. Staff can easily download the app to their devices and then access it on an iPad, on an android device or on a desktop computer.
MS Teams is an excellent tool which ticks a lot of admin boxes in terms of sharing resources and allowing easy communications. This is not however where I see its biggest strength. Its biggest strength for me is in being a space for teachers to openly share thoughts, ideas and resources; An almost IntraTwitter system, internal to the school. All the benefits of sharing ideas as in twitter but without the scale, a minor disadvantage, and without the online posturing about the “correct” way to teach or policy or educational theory, a major advantage of teams.
I haven’t as yet ventured into class teams however I am sure that will be something we will be looking at in the future and I am sure it too will bring with it benefits.