Microsoft Teams Help & Support

Microsoft Teams Guidance for 20-21

This guide provides information on using Microsoft Teams within the curriculum.

IMPORTANT: Naming conventions (to aid ongoing support and maintenance)

If using Teams, the Team name must include the module code, module name and academic year. This enables easy identification and separation, especially when used across multiple cohorts and years. Example: BUS1025M-2021 Creativity And Entrepreneurial Thought.

This helpsheet covers six main areas:

  1. Should Collaborate or Teams be used for my online teaching?
  2. What are the benefits of using Teams instead of Blackboard or Blackboard Collaborate?
  3. Which type of Team should I use: Chat, Meeting or Site?
  4. What are the challenges of using Teams?
  5. Best practice in using a Teams site for teaching alongside of Blackboard.
  6. Best practice in using a Teams chat for teaching alongside of Blackboard.

Should Collaborate or Teams be used for my online teaching?

The university recommends Blackboard (VLE) and Collaborate as the default tool for online teaching delivery as:

  • Blackboard (VLE) module sites are automatically created each year
  • Students and staff are automatically enrolled onto Blackboard (VLE) module sites.
  • Staff remain in control over initiating recordings and their distribution to students
  • Collaborate is built and fully integrated into Blackboard (VLE). Collaborate is an online webinar tool with workflows and permissions optimised for teaching.
  • Digital Education provide a rich suite of help materials to enable staff to make the most of Blackboard (Resources Hub link).
  • Staff use is guided by the Blackboard Standards.

Some colleagues may opt to use Teams as an alternative to Blackboard (VLE) or Collaborate for pedagogic reasons and, depending on the intention, Teams can provide additional affordances.

What are the benefits of using Teams instead of Blackboard or Blackboard Collaborate?

The benefits of Teams, in the T&L context, lies in how it enables dynamic communication and shared document collaboration. Teams is generally used in these main ways:

  • As a dynamic discussion board tool.
  • Predominantly as a webinar tool for large classes (250+ students).
  • Chiefly as a collaboration-rich space where students collaborate on 365 documents.

The affordances of main types of Teams (Chat, Meeting, Site) can be visualised in these layers:

A screenshot showing the layers of features in Microsoft Teams, from Chat to Meetings, Teams Sites and Office 365 integration.

In many cases, using a formal Teams site is only needed if the module pedagogy is focussed on student collaboration throughout the entirety of the module.

Note: If planning to use Teams as a webinar tool, creating a Teams Meeting via Blackboard or Outlook suffices.

Which type of Team should I use: Chat, Meeting or Site?

The below diagram is designed to help staff who are using Teams choose whether they are best served using a chat, meeting or team.

A diagram showing how MS Teams can work for a number of different projects and that different features will apply to different approaches.

This table details how to setup the Teams Chat, Meeting or Site. Alternative tools that can be used appear  in the third column.

PurposeHowAlternatives
As a dynamic discussion board tool.This is simplest through using a Teams Chat.   Alternately, can create an initial kick off meeting (webinar) as this then creates a group chat which lives on after the meeting. It provides a joining link that others can use to join the discussion (N.B. any files shared earlier will not be shared with later joiners).  Blackboard discussion board, wiki, blogs or journal
Padlet.
Predominantly as a webinar tool.This is simplest using the Teams webinar creation tool in Bb or through scheduling a Meeting in Outlook.   Teams allows web conferencing with up to 350 users,  Blackboard Collaborate   Blackboard Collaborate allows interactive web conferencing (chat, video, audio, breakout rooms, voting) with up to 250 students.  Sessions with 250-500 students only allow the lecturer to broadcast and for chat functionality.  
Chiefly as a collaboration-rich space.This can be done using a Teams Chat or a full Team Site)This can be done through Office 365 via http://365.lincoln.ac.uk. Collaborative Word, PPT and Excels can be setup in the One Drive area of 365.

What are the challenges of using Teams?

Teams, while feature rich, can be more challenging for staff to use than Blackboard (VLE) or Blackboard Collaborate.

Some of the main challenges are detailed in the table below.

 TeamsCollaborate
Enrolling studentsOn Teams, this needs to be done manually by module team. This can be time consuming and subject to error.Enrolment (additions and removals) are automatic on Blackboard.
Privacy for students who withdrawWhen students leave the module or the university, a notice pops up on the group chat notifying all other users on the Team.On Blackboard, no notification is given to other students.
Recording live sessionsTeams recordings can be initiated by anyone on the call and not just the lecturer.   All participants are sent a link to the unedited recording soon after the session.Collaborate recordings can only be initiated by the moderator.   Unedited recordings go up on Blackboard soon after the session but students are not notified. The module team can hide the Collaborate area to prevent student access. The recordings can then be downloaded and uploaded to Panopto in edited form as well as deleted from Collaborate.
Application updatesTeams is subject to constant updates which can catch staff and student unawares.Collaborate updates are communicated well in advance.

Best practice in using a Teams Site for teaching alongside of Blackboard.

If using a Teams site alongside Blackboard (VLE), please follow these best practice steps.

Naming conventions (to aid ongoing support and maintenance)

The Team name must include the module code, module name and academic year. This will enable easy identification and separation, especially when used across multiple cohorts and years. Examples:

  • PHA2001M-2021 Drug Formulation and Delivery
  • BUS1025M-2021 Creativity And Entrepreneurial Thought
  • SOS1004M-2021 Applying Research

Enrolling students

To enrol students, at the current time, staff need to take the student email addresses from Timetable and paste these in during the Teams site creation process when prompted.

Channel setup

It is recommended to create different channels on the Team. At a minimum, you should consider having these channels:

  • A General Channel
  • A Staff Only channel (with permissions set so access is restricted)
  • A Support channel
  • A Discussion channel
  • Channels can also be setup for seminar groups or specific topics if the volume of discussion warrants this.

Recommended practice in using a Teams Chat for teaching alongside of Blackboard.

Includes:

  • Naming the Chat so it is easier to recognise from the Teams application.
  • Pinning the Chat so that it is easy to find at all times.

Using Teams in this way is good for:

  • Shorter online discussions
  • Student led discussions where the students set up the chat themselves (maybe forming their own groups, and then invite the instructor in)

Using Teams in this way is not good for

  • Longer term online discussions
  • Assessing student engagement in online discussions (N.B. a site provides analytics via Insight)
  • Multi-threaded discussion or discussions which required multiple channels separated by topic, students can be only be added by someone already in the chat – there is no way to provide a ‘join in’ link

Note: Files uploaded in the chat are saved in the OneDrive account of the person sharing the file with read and write access given to everyone in the chat at that time.

Additional Resources

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