Microsoft Teams for Teaching
Microsoft Teams is a powerful collaborative environment, part of Microsoft’s Office 365 software suite. The tool is designed to house groups of users in an environment where they can schedule and host video calls, create threads of text conversation, share and collaborate on documents, make recordings (according to GDPR regulations), etc.
Teams has many useful applications for education. It is a powerful tool for collaboration and communication, but every tool for education comes with trade-offs that need to be considered carefully. No tool is perfect, and Teams likewise has it limits. Explore the page below to see if and how the use of Microsoft Teams can contribute to your program.
The latest news about the use of Microsoft Teams at Leiden University can be found at the help desk portal page.
Who can use MS Teams?
- All employees of Leiden University, and all students, have access to MS Teams through Office 365. Staff and students can login to Teams using their UCLN accounts. Note, this is not your email address, but rather your ULCN username @vuw.leidenuniv.nl & their ULCN password
- For example, firstname.lastname@example.org for a staff member, or email@example.com for a student.
- Guest employees, those with a temporary status, visiting scholars, etc, do not automatically have a Teams account. These users can request an account through ISSC HelpDesk
- Guest lecturers and others without an UCLN account can be added to a MS Teams using their email address.
- Currently, all staff of LU can make Teams. Teams can contain up to 10,000 members. Up to 300 people can join a single video call. Calls can be scheduled ahead of time or launched in the moment.
- Users can be added with different permissions, which restrict or allow users to add other users, edit the structure of the Team, add/remove documents and comments, create calls, etc.
- It is also possible to invite people to your team and let them decide whether or not they want to join. Instructions on how to do that can be found on this help desk portal page.
- It is not (yet) possible to upload or enrol your students in bulk. Read more about that on this page.
How can Teams be used in an Accessible way?
Captioning. Captions are an excellent accessibility tool, because they improve accessibility both in the moment, and for later review. Teams currently can make auto-generated live captioning for English. Your words will be transcribed, and can be automatically translated into several other languages (including Dutch). However, as the captions and translations are computer-generated, they can vary in quality.
Make use of the chat functionality. Text is more accessible than live video or audio. Using a moderator or note-taker during the class to transcribe questions and answers, to note important information, allows for easy review by students who struggle to capture information through live communication.
Where possible, share documents directly, rather than sharing your screen live during a call. Giving students access to PowerPoint documents and text files directly allows them to resize and recolour them as needed.
For other general accessibility advice, see the Accessibility page on this site.
What educational forms and activities are suitable for MS Teams?
In this section we are concentrating on the technical functionalities of MS Teams. For didactical advice please consult the general pages.
Small interactive sessions
Due to its interactivity possibilities and integration with collaborative document environment, Teams is an excellent tool for small interactive sessions. Teams can be utilised for both stable groups (like in project-based work) and changing groups (such as small group discussion) through the use of Channels and calls.
- Microsoft Teams supports (video) calls using audio and, when preferred, video. You will see a maximum of 9 other participants on screen and can use the presenters mode to pin one speaker.
- Use chat functionality and channels to have students ask & answer questions.
- Every (video) call creates a dedicated chat where participants and moderators can discuss, ask questions and/or help each other when needed. You can also share links. This chat remains available later through the channel that was used (if the meeting was started within a channel) or in Chat tab (if the call was otherwise).
- Facilitate discussions and interactions:
- Teams cannot automatically create Breakout Rooms as is possible in Kaltura Live Rooms. However, it is possible and simple to have multiple calls running at once. In each Team, multiple Channels can be created. You can use Channels to separate calls which can function as breakout rooms. See how to do so in this 4 minute tutorial.
- Alternatively, you can simply schedule multiple calls to run simultaneously, and dedicate these as Breakout Rooms, or work groups.
- During a meeting you can share your screen with others, for example to give a presentation or show non-shared files. While sharing your screen, others in the call can also see the presenter. That means you could share slides while remaining visible to students.
- For more general advice on small interactive sessions look at this page.
Setting Up Calls: You can either launch or schedule calls directly from within the Team or Channel environment, or you can use the Calendar Tab to schedule calls. In some instances of Outlook (and on managed PCs) you can also create a link for a call in Teams from within the event. See this tutorial for how to schedule in Microsoft Teams.
Larger, less interactive sessions *
Teams supports up to 300 users in a single call. It is very important to check your connectivity setup when launching video calls. Most technical issues in calls are caused by user-end connectivity – see this guide for advice. These calls can be launched and scheduled in multiple ways, and be joined either by invite, or by the participants themselves. Before choosing to use Teams for large-forum calls, consider the following:
User Management: Currently, Microsoft (creator of MS Teams) and D2L (creator of Brightspace) are developing integration between the two systems. However, until this has been developed, tested, and implemented in LU’s architecture, user management for MS Teams is entirely manual. There are two ways to import users into Teams: either create a code that can be joined by a link, or add users manually. Students will appear in the user search. When using a link, note that anyone with this link can enter the Team. You cannot prevent users from joining. See this blog on Troll Control.
Stability: However, using live environments of this size poses both didactical and technical challenges. Stability issues can always occur when large groups assemble in online calls. Stability risks can be mitigated by students and teachers adhering to the guidance around connectivity. However, performance issues are always possible.
Moderation: Group sizes over 25 benefit greatly from moderation. Even for basic interactions with your audience (i.e. through a Q&A thread) having a trained class moderator (this can be a teaching assistant or student assistant) is essential. Moderators help process, order, and answer questions, keep excess audio and video noise to a minimum, and can manage audience engagement. Read more about e-moderation for education in this blog.
Accessibility: Live digital environments of this size can face accessibility issues; creating a stable online environment requires access to quality hardware, high speed internet (landline preferred over WiFi), and a quiet and uninterrupted location. Not all students can readily access these conditions. Captioning should be prioritised.
- Default calls in Teams can support up to 300 users. No special permissions are required, though Team Owners can manage who is able to launch calls, and in which Channels.
- Up to 9 tiles can be seen at once. Tiles will display based on user activity: when someone in the call talks, their video will appear on everyone’s screen. The remaining screens will be randomised.
- Larger forums allow for less interaction. However, they can be used in tandem with breakout rooms to support deeper, active engagement in smaller groups. You can also use in-class for student interaction. Check with your ICTO coordinator for what polling tools are accessible in your faculty.
- When considering a large-scale, synchronous teaching event, it is highly recommended to take frequent breaks to allow for concentration & focus.
Giving and sharing feedback*
By using the chat, document sharing, and calling features in Teams, you can easily give and share feedback with students and peers.
One-on-one conversations with individual students*
- Microsoft Teams has integrated Leiden University accounts so you can easily contact students through their ULCN. This can be done through a video call, audio only call or chat.
Conducting oral exams with individual students*
- The call function also allows for examination of individual students.
- For more general information about online assessment, please visit: https://www.staff.universiteitleiden.nl/vr/remote-teaching/tools-and-tips-for-digital-examination
Invite guest speakers, experts or other speakers*
- Not having externals providing their input to academic education would be a big loss. In MSTeams it is possible to add guests to a team or a call.
- Another option would be to use a prerecorded video or interview and play this during a call by sharing the screen with audio enabled.
- Recording lectures in advance and publishing these ahead of time is a great way to utilise live classroom time for learning.
- Recording in Teams: From within a call, you can choose the “Start Recording”. When making a recording, additional microphone and webcam inputs can be used. The recording will capture your webcam as well as a screen you wish to share. If you do not share a screen, it will capture only your webcam. Note, however, that it will the recording will always capture the entire Teams interface, including toolbars & tabs within Teams.
- Your recording will export as an .mp4 file, but (contrary to the on-screen message you will receive) it will not be uploaded to a cloud storage environment. It will be stored locally for 21 Days. For long-term storage, download the file locally and upload it to the Kaltura Video Portal.
* Please keep GDPR (AVG) in mind with all these functionalities and check the use with your Data Privacy Officer. Do not store sensitive and/or personal data on MS Teams. Be aware you need to have permission from all participants beforehand if you wish to record an audio or video session.