As COVID-19 rages on, schools face the reality of the upcoming fall semester. Many
medical experts warn against reopening schools
in Coronavirus hot zones. At the same time,
some state governors want to reopen schools as soon as possible
. In any case, local school districts will ultimately decide whether they will switch to remote learning or return to traditional classrooms.
For those that do switch to remote learning (even in part), Microsoft Teams for Education offers a gateway for schools to navigate the coming school year.
How to Use Microsoft Teams for Education
At the end of the day, teachers will have to deal with a lot of new responsibilities as a direct result of the crisis. Teachers will need to adjust to new platforms and, in some cases, completely reimagine their lesson plans. As a result, school districts will need to provide the right tools and training to prepare for the coming semester. This preparation should begin with Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams For Teachers and Students
So, what exactly does Microsoft Teams offer teachers? Microsoft Teams is an offshoot of Office 365, the standard Microsoft productivity platform. While it handles many of the same tasks as other tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams also works with Office 365. In other words, it is integrated with many of the programs that schools already use (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc).
Due to its familiarity, the transition to Microsoft Teams should be relatively smooth. Moreover, Teams works seamlessly with Microsoft’s free-to-use platform for education: Microsoft 365 Education. Here are just a few of Microsoft Teams’ features to help support teachers:
- Scheduling - Teams allows teachers to create and share calendars with their students. This makes it easier to manage virtual class schedules, project deadlines, and one-on-one meetings.
- Content Updates - Both students and teachers can create, share, and edit content — all in one place. IT departments can also set limits on student accounts. This way, teachers can create assignments, students can submit their work, and then teachers can quickly provide feedback.
- Microsoft Teams Classroom - Teachers can manage virtual classrooms of just about any size. Microsoft Teams currently allows up to 250 members per meeting (far more than the average class size). These classes are carried out via Skype, where the teacher can manage with full control, or open the conversation up to the students.
- Instant Messaging - Not every update requires a video meeting or phone call. Fortunately, teachers and students can keep the conversation going through instant messaging and chat rooms.
- OneNote - As part of Office 365, OneNote allows teachers to create interactive lesson plans for every class.
- Applications - The Microsoft Teams app makes it easy for educators and students to access learning materials from any device.
- Record, Upload and Share Lessons - Teachers can record any meeting (captures all aspects of the meeting, including whiteboard!), easily access the recording in Microsoft Stream (everything is saved in the cloud for easy revisit), and can share the recording with colleagues and students.
Microsoft Teams for Education is marching its way to becoming a full LMS - with messaging and calling abilities built-in, eliminating the need for Skype. Not to mention, it's free for students and teachers.
Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom: Which Is Better For Educators?
When you look at the basic features — meetings, filesharing, instant messaging, etc. — Zoom and Microsoft Teams seem pretty similar. They both allow groups to share info quickly and perform multiple tasks in one place. That said, Microsoft Teams is a better fit in an educational environment for a few reasons.
First, Microsoft Teams has some of the best security measures of any platform of its kind. Microsoft Teams allows for two-factor authentication to keep accounts secure. Additionally, Microsoft encrypts data storage and transfers via SharePoint. Notes are also safely secured through OneNote encryption.
While Zoom does have security features as well, it was recently the victim of a cybersecurity attack. This breach left the private data of millions of users exposed. It caused Zoom to bolster its security protocol, but the company continues to deal with the PR nightmare. In the end, Zoom cannot compare to Microsoft when it comes to security.
Second, Microsoft is simply better for educators because it integrates programs that most teachers and faculty already use. Office 365 is a bedrock of most schools around the country. Adding Microsoft Teams to allow for virtual learning would save school districts a great deal of time and money.
Microsoft Teams and Legacy Phone Systems
PBX systems do not meet the needs of the modern classroom. Yet, thousands of schools around the country still use outdated legacy phone systems. With many schools shifting to a virtual environment in 2020, the need for modern communication tools has never been greater.
That’s why Microsoft Teams provides the opportunity to replace your PBX system for good. When students learn in a virtual class, the faculty cannot use a legacy phone system to stay in touch. Instead, they need a modern application that keeps the conversation in one easy-to-use hub. This is why Microsoft Teams is one of the best alternatives to legacy phone systems.
How SoftwareONE Can Help
SoftwareONE is a leading solutions provider with 30 years of experience in software and technology. Our offering spans from software licensing and procurement to software lifecycle management. We also manage every aspect of cloud-first advisory, delivery, and managed solutions. In short, SoftwareONE has the expertise to support our clients in today’s digital world.
As your school prepares for the new academic year, we recommend Microsoft Teams to help ease the transition to remote classrooms. Microsoft Teams has all of the tools teachers need to work effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, it could save your teachers a great deal of time and provide your students with a safe, productive learning environment.
If you have any questions about implementing Microsoft Teams for Education, contact SoftwareONE today!