I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Alan Foote about how he is using Microsoft Teams to teach his students and manage his classroom. Professor Foote is a professor at Stevenson University and a regular attendee of Baltimore SharePoint User Group that is teaching his students about Microsoft Teams while simultaneously holding a pilot for the university. While working on research for his Phd in Knowledge Management he began using SharePoint and quickly realized that there was a skills gap and that SharePoint really needed to be taught in the classroom. For his Project and Knowledge Management class he began a quest to get a SharePoint environment set up for his students. After hitting roadblocks with getting an on-premises environment, he was advised to use SharePoint Online and the university purchased an Office 365 subscription. When Microsoft Teams became generally available Professor Foote began hearing about it at the user group and reading up on it. He is now using the Education version of Teams in his classroom.
How Teams is Being Used in the Classroom
Microsoft Teams is serving several functions in Professor Foote’s classroom. A team was set up with all 20 students in the class added as team members where weekly announcements are made. Professor Foote also posts relevant videos and content for his students to view and supplement their learning. Documents related to the class are uploaded into the File tab. Students can ask questions and collaborate in the Conversations tab. Another tab was created to provide links to the SharePoint sites that the class uses so they can easily navigate to them from Teams. When there are group projects a team is set up for each group to discuss their work through conversations and sharing their files. New teams are created for each group instead of channels because the students shouldn’t be able to view each others work.
Professor Foote lights up when talking about how he is able to post his class assignments and students are able to submit them right within Teams on the Assignments tab. Professor Foote is able to enter a due date and if an assignment is turned in late it is indicated. He is able to post the grade and provide comments in the Assignments tab as well. A tab displaying Planner was added where Professor Foote breaks his assignments for the semester out in buckets. Students are able to review their assignment grades and comments.
Bringing Teams University Wide
Professor Foote has high hopes that Microsoft Teams will be adopted throughout all classrooms at the university. He feels strongly about Microsoft technology being used routinely by students because when they graduate they are likely to see these tools in the work place. Currently Stevenson University uses Blackboard to handle online learning management and there has been a lot invested into this tool. Also Blackboard is used by elementary and high schools so it is viewed as being more established. Also Blackboard offers the grade book feature which calculates students final grade that Teams currently does not. Teams, however, has many more integrations and is likely to be used in the work place by students in the future.
Professor Foote is working closely with the IT Department at Stevenson University to report how his pilot is going. They realize that there will be a lot of management and governance decisions that will need to be made in order to roll out Teams university wide but that the benefits for students will be great.