February 07, 2023

Top Ten Tips: Microsoft Teams for Education

Mark Pattie
Modern Work Practice Lead
You would be forgiven for thinking Microsoft Teams has taken over the corporate world with how many organisations use it daily. Teams is a great collaboration and productivity resource and we have already shared some of our top ten tips for the standard version of Teams in our last blog.

Did you know that Microsoft Teams for Education is just as great as its business counterpart?

Microsoft Teams for Education provides one centralised place for educators and students to learn, connect and grow. As with all the Microsoft 365 apps, features are constantly being added or improved upon, and it can be hard to stay across all these changes.

With that said, let’s dive in to my top ten tips and tricks for Microsoft Teams for Education!

Tip #1: Reflect Tab for Students and Staff

Social and emotional skills are just as important to learn as academics, and Teams for Education provides a great solution for both students and staff with the Reflect tab. Microsoft recently added this as a standard feature in all Class and Staff Teams; you can find the reflect tab either on the left or along the top of the page depending on the team type.

There is a lot of functionality in this feature that allows you to check in on the emotional wellbeing of your students or fellow staff. You can create custom questions, set time limits for responses, easily see past check-ins, and even view everyone’s responses in Together Mode for a bit of fun.

Tip #2: Add Visuals to Assignment Instructions

Assignments are meant to be a test of a student’s skills, but that doesn’t mean the assignment’s instructions should necessarily be hard to understand. Teachers can now embed visuals into their assignment instructions to provide more clarity for students.

When creating an assignment, simple click the Insert Image button; from here you can embed images or even gifs. This will not only make your instructions clearer but also more engaging, particularly for students who struggle with large blocks of text.

Tip #3: Updated Home Page

A new Home Page feature was rolled out on Teams for Education recently. This page allows educators to create one, centralised place where both staff and students can quickly catch up on everything related to a class.

Simply select Home Page in your class team to launch the new feature. It will create a default environment for you with any current schedules, resources or assignments, and you are then able to customise it to your preferences. You can also have this feature prepared before activating your class team if you’re very organised.

Tip #4: Grade Insights

The Insights tab is a wonderful feature in Teams for Education, especially for seeing assignment and grade reports. Microsoft recently improved this feature, adding more data, granularity and an overall improved experience for educators.

In your class team, head to Insights > Assignments. From here you can see a range of data including average grades, submission progress and rubric information. You can also filter this data by assignments or specific students in just a few clicks.

Tip #5: Reusing Whiteboards in Meetings

Chances are, you’re already a fan of Microsoft Whiteboard and how it encourages collaboration in Teams meetings. However, did you know that you can prepare whiteboards before classes and re-use them to your heart’s content?

In a Teams meeting, go to Share > Microsoft Whiteboard. You can either create a new Whiteboard or open a pre-existing one. This is a helpful feature if you teach the same content across multiple classes or need to share brainstorming notes with a different set of colleagues.

Tip #6: Set Timed Quizzes

Form Quiz in Assignments is a quick and simple way to create tests for your students. Microsoft recently added functionality to this already popular feature, allowing you to set time durations for your quizzes. Students are only able to complete the quiz in the allotted time and it is auto submitted once the timer ends.

Head to Assignments > Create > Quiz > New Quiz, then navigate to the three dots on the right. Under settings you will find various options including start and end dates, progress bars and shuffle questions, as well as the new Set Time Duration option.

Tip #7: Reading Progress Challenges

Another new feature under the Insights tab is reading challenges. Head to Insights > Reading Progress > Create Challenge Assignment to create a new Reading Progress with words that your students most frequently missed.

By clicking on the Challenge Assignment, you can add additional vocabulary, create passages with the recommended words and adjust other settings of the challenge. This feature helps you provide your students with relevant and highly targeted learning opportunities in just a few clicks.

Tip #8: Parent Contact Details

Parents and guardians play an important role in a student’s school progress, and Teams for Education makes it easier than ever for educators to connect with them. The Parents tab can now be accessed via both desktop and mobile, allowing you to connect with student’s guardians whenever and wherever you need. This page will include both phone and email contact details if they are in your organisation’s system. It takes a village to raise a child as the saying goes.

Tip #9: Apps

Apps are an easy way to enhance your Teams experience and functionality. You can access all of the tried-and-true Teams apps in Teams for Education, as well as a range of Education specific apps to make you and your student’s lives easier. Consider adding popular Education apps like Kahoot!, Edpuzzle and Testportal, or check out recently added Education apps like SmartPods or Kami. No matter your preferences, there’s surely an app for you.

Tip #10: Keyboard Shortcuts

As always, keyboard shortcuts are a great way to work more efficiently, and Teams has many of them. You can view a full list here, but in the spirit of this blog, here is my top ten shortcuts for the Teams for Education desktop app:

Action Shortcut
Go to Search Ctrl + E
Start a new chat Ctrl + N
Open Chat Ctrl + 2
Open Teams Ctrl + 3
Open Calendar Ctrl + 4
Start a new line Shift + Enter
Search current chat or channel messages Ctrl + F
Toggle mute Ctrl + Shift + M
Temporarily unmute Ctrl + Spacebar
Schedule a meeting Alt + Shift + N

What’s Next?

Hopefully, you found these ten Microsoft Teams for Education tips helpful. This is by no means a full list of the functionality in Microsoft Teams for Education and there’s always more features being added, but these ten insights will make life easier for you and your students.

Are you struggling with more than just managing your Teams? If your IT team could use a hand delivering better learning outcomes with your wider Microsoft 365 license, we’re here to help. Contact a Data#3 Microsoft 365 Specialist today for advice or to enquire about our Microsoft 365 Optimiser managed service.