COVID-19 has launched an unexpected wave of distance learning into schools. With the pandemic still on, schools are spending the summer planning the fall. Microsoft released its own lesson plan for Teams on Monday, with an expansive library view and more analytics coming in time for the next school year.
Some of the new features will be of importance to educators, parents and students:
- The 7×7 gallery view will replace the current 3×3 approach.
- The new breakout room will allow for smaller group discussions
- Attendance reports and other classroom insights will provide data on who is struggling and who isn’t.
- The Meeting Hall is being set up to allow only those registered to the meeting.
No new feature clearly takes advantage of other capabilities in Microsoft Office, traditionally the cradle of Microsoft to help set up Teams. But the company notes that cities and even entire companies are rapidly moving to distance learning through Teams. The United Arab Emirates, for example, transferred all 650,000 of its students to the Teams after the pandemic.
Follow students with new Team features
Microsoft says these new features will come to Teams as part of Microsoft Education – specifically as part of Teams for Education. However, all but the Class Details will generally go to Groups.
Zoom, Microsoft’s most popular competitor in online video calls, provided a 7×7 gallery view of the 49 participants’ faces. Now, Microsoft is expanding from the 3×3 view to a new format. The company says the 49-person view will roll out the preview in June and be available collectively in the fall.
Microsoft will steal a page from Zoom and add Breakthrough Rooms, which will also come in the fall. Microsoft did not provide any additional details. However, according to Zoom, Zoom meeting participants can be assigned to their own Breakout Room automatically or manually by the server, allowing them the ability to share audio, video, and their privacy screen. With the Zoom feature, up to 50 Breakthrough Rooms can be created.
Microsoft is adding a new trend view for its Class Insights that becomes even more critical as students sign up and leave online classes. (A kid of one of my neighbors had to skip some unexpected high school classes for a few weeks while his parents were recovering from the coronavirus.) Despite the 7×7 gallery view possibly the Team’s most flashy new feature, tracking students and their engagement could be the most important addition for educators.
“For educators, traditional lesson plans aren’t always digitally translated – and in many cases, teachers find they can’t recreate the school day with just live sessions. “, Microsoft said in one blog posts. “According to our community of educators, more than half said ‘keeping students digitally engaged’ and ‘student engagement’ are the top challenges they face in the process. distance learning.
Classroom insights will provide data about students who attended, interacted, completed assignments and more, including grading. Teams for Education is adding a feature for students to signal their teachers, called Raise your hands, announced in March. Microsoft says trending views will be in place at times. Fall class begins.
Teams will add a new Lobby, a feature already in Zoom to help limit “Zoom Bombing” and other unwanted intrusions to meetings. The new lobby will be joined by new meeting options that will prevent students from starting a meeting without a teacher present.
Microsoft also encourages educators to incorporate apps like FlipGrid, a social video discussion platform that Microsoft bought in 2018, and Minecraft for Education, take the game popular and adopt it for classes. learn. Extra features like Immerisve Reader can help students who have difficulty reading text, while Background Blur can be helpful for keeping students working and protecting their privacy. Recently, Microsoft has made it easier to enable custom wallpapers by creating a folder dedicated to custom images. A more complicated version of custom background has been out for several months.
This story is updated at 3:17 pm with additional details.