In order to be able to deliver an effective, online curriculum and complete the 2019-2020 academic year for our students we decided to use Microsoft Teams as our preferred platform. So successful was our approach that we have continued using Microsoft Teams going forward into 2020-21 academic year.
Microsoft Teams is an evolution of Microsoft Classroom and is a collaborative, virtual learning environment. Within Teams teachers can create ‘classes’ which select students can be invited to join and have dedicated, small-group interaction using a number of its inbuilt functions and apps. The teacher can deliver live (internet reliability permitting) meetings or ‘lessons’ in which the students can freely interact, comment, ask questions etc. These lessons can also be pre-recorded and divided into short video clips which the students can watch with the teacher ‘in the classroom’ with them to support them and answer any questions they may have. The teacher can set assignments within the lesson which the students can engage with instantly and the teacher can monitor their progress, offer commentary and assess in real-time. Equally the teacher can set short quizzes and activity through Microsoft Forms, one of the dedicated apps within Teams. The discussion between students and teacher take place in real time as they would in a normal classroom, through either text, live voice/video chat or recorded audio.
One of the many benefits of this platform is that the whole lesson is recorded and can be referred back to at any point in the future by any student. This perfectly enables opportunity for revision or mastering of skills and understanding of concepts. Similarly, all of the files and documents used during a lesson can be reviewed easily from the Files section within the class. A further benefit is that the teacher can see in real time when the students are accessing any assignments and when they have submitted them for assessment, equally the student will receive notification as to when their work has been marked or commented upon.
During the lesson the teacher can clearly see on their screen which students are present and those that are not, and by the addition of small additional apps such as ‘Insights’, attendance can be accurately monitored.
Assignments can be set easily in the form of shared or individual documents in any format along with ‘quizzes’ and ‘Forms’. We have devised a robust assessment programme so that student’s knowledge and understanding can be measured at the end of each unit of work within the curriculum. Detailed online records such as those shown below will allow the teacher and leaders to monitor pupil progress both whilst online and will seamlessly transfer into school-based assessment when the students return.