Meetings in Microsoft Teams have been a great way to continue instructional activities that have traditionally been done face to face. This includes all sorts of class discussions as well as even more traditional teachers delivering content with the possibility of student interactions, questions and answers. This month Microsoft rolled out several enhancements to the meetings in Teams that are particularly useful for teachers using Class Teams with students. This is our topic on Day 108 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365.
Set Permissions to Attendee
Microsoft Teams was designed for transparency and full collaboration, which helps explain why people who join your meeting, particularly if they are members of your organization, automatically join as Presenters, not Attendees. Microsoft has made several changes to Teams based on teacher feedback since adding the business platform to their education offerings, like adding Private channels. It is a pain to have to manually change each student to an attendee as they join a meeting. If you missed the wrong kid, he or she could mute the teacher or take over by sharing their screen with everyone. Well, now you can set all participants except yourself as Attendees before they even join. It’s really simple.
Start your meeting, click on the participants button in the toolbar.
In the Participants window, click on Manage permissions (the checkmark/x).
A browser window will open with these options.
Just click on the dropdown next to “Who can present?” and choose “Only me”.
Now as students enter, they will only have rights of an attendee, not a presenter.
“Breakout Rooms”- more than just Meetings
The two top features Zoom fans cite are the number of faces on screen at one time, and breakout rooms. Teams just bumped up their maximum number of participants in view from 4 to 9, which is still far below what Zoom offers. On the other hand, what Teams offers through channels is far superior to merely being able to breakout just for a meeting.
By setting up channels that are open to the whole team, participants can choose a topic or group. (Virtual EdCamp, anyone?)
By setting up private channels, teachers can set up small groups. A channel has it’s own shared files are, it’s own notes section, it’s own Post tab (chat/conversations) and can have its own meetings. They are not one-time events; they persevere. Therefore, they provide everything you and your students need for small group work.
Multiple Meetings in Multiple Channels
Once you set up private channels for each of your small groups and assign students to them, you can start a Meeting in the General channel with all students to give instructions. You can then start a Meeting in each of the channels, and only the members of that channel can join. You can bounce between all of the Meetings freely by clicking on the Play icon for any Meeting. If you are worried about student behavior in one group while you are in another group, you can record each Meeting. The recordings will be saved to your Microsoft Stream account, and also posted to that channel in Teams. You can delete that post if you are only recording for accountability, or leave them if there is a benefit for students to be able to go back and review their Meeting.
Set up, join, record multiple meetings simultaneously.
Before you close any Meeting, you can download the attendance. Open the Participants view, and this time click on the download arrow.
This will download the attendance as an Excel file with a row showing the name of each person that joined the meeting and the time they joined, and a row with the name and time any person left the Meeting. Obviously this is far more informative than just listing who joined. In this example, I had my son join a meeting for exactly 2 seconds and then leave. If the report didn’t include times, it would look like he actually attended the Meeting, when all he did was show up long enough for a box to be checked next to his name.
Caveat: You MUST download attendance BEFORE ending the Meeting. Once you end the Meeting, even if you can click to restart it, it will only download who attended the restarted Meeting, not the original Meeting.
I try not to sugarcoat things. What teachers really need is to be able to both start and end a meeting without students getting in unsupervised before or after the meeting. Microsoft has now solved one half of that problem with the End Meeting button.
On the Task bar, click on the More options (the ellipses) and just click “End meeting”. This will instantly end the meeting for all participants. Unlike leaving the meeting by “hanging up”, which only removes you from the meeting while leaving everyone else in until they choose to hang up, clicking End meeting kicks everyone else out, too. Teachers who use this feature won’t have to worry about students staying in unsupervised. They no longer have to wait to be the last to leave, or open the Participants list and individually boot out any stragglers.
Meet Now (Don’t Schedule a Meeting with Students)
The other half of the equation is students joining a meeting before the teacher arrives. Presently I recommend that teachers do not schedule a Meeting ahead of time for students, because regardless of what time and date the meeting is scheduled for, once it is posted, anyone in the Team can open the meeting at any time by clicking on the Join button. Instead, always use Meet now. You can use other means to let your students know when the meeting will take place. Microsoft says they are working on allowing organizations to have a setting that doesn’t allow students to enter a meeting until a teacher starts it, but that is still being worked on.
Microsoft Teams was already the most comprehensive tool for remote learning and remote teaching, and they are listening to teachers and responding very quickly to bring the features we need for the times we are living in.
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If you like this style of directions and screenshots, walking you through ideas for using Microsoft tools in your classroom, check out my book,
All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 50 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.