Tabs make Microsoft Teams versatile. Tabs are where you can customize the content of the entire team, of each channel, and of your daily lessons. Last week we looked at how Channels help you keep all your content, conversations and collaborations threaded and organized. Today we’re looking at the content, and how tabs bring that content to your class teams. This is Day 124 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365.
This is the third post in a series that deal less with the how-to style that most of my articles are. You won’t find step-by-step tutorials here like the ones that often accompany my posts. Here we will explore some of the why behind tabs and mostly focus on specific ways you can make use of tabs in a class team. In the previous two posts we examined the unique features and usefulness of chats in Teams compared to the limitations of chat in other platforms, and how you can leverage channels in Teams to organize your content and your students. Within those channels, everything happens in a tab. So let’s check them out.
Every channel has a Posts tab for conversational chats, and a Files tab for shared files like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, PDFs and anything else you want to share with your students. Depending on the type of team and which channel, there may be other default tabs. The General channel of a class team, for example, has tabs for Assignments and for Grades, and for the OneNote Class Notebook. As you create channels in some types of Teams, an additional section is created in the team’s OneNote notebook. Each new channel also has a tab called Notes that is one section in that larger notebook.
I dealt extensively with the Posts tab on Day 122. The versatility of what you can do with a post, and what can be attached to a post, makes it a very resourceful medium. You can not only converse here, but add links and attach files. Posts can be formatted in a ridiculous number of ways. Posts can connect you to other features like files, assignments and even meetings.
Each channel has its own Files tab, building on Teams’ organizational strengths to keep files together with the conversations and meetings related to that specific channel’s content. You can create Office files here, and upload any type of file here. Team members can generally all collaborate on any files uploaded to Teams, unless you place them in the Class Materials Folder or go into SharePoint and change permissions.
When you upload a file to a Team, you are uploading a copy that everyone can edit, so your original stays safe. Also, your teammates have the choice to open the document in Teams and edit everyone’s copy, or to download their own copy so their edits won’t affect everyone else. You can also add your own Google Drive (or Dropbox) to a team so you (and only you) can access those files within Teams without having to move or copy anything.
Another tab that comes automatically with Class, Staff, or PLC Teams is a OneNote notebook. The type of team determines the type of notebook. The entire notebook is available from the general channel, and specific sections are available form other channels. You can now decide when you create a staff or class notebook whether you want the section created in each channel to be part of the read-only Content Library section group or the Collaboration Space section group of the notebook. Apart form Teams, OneNote is one of the most versatile tools in educational technology. Being able to utilize a class notebook inside of a class team adds so much functionality and accessibility.
Specific to Class Notebook General Channel
There are a few tabs that are automatically created in, or can only be added to, the General tab of a Class team. These include assignments, grades and insights.
All assignments must be made under the assignments tab in the General channel. The announcement (link) to any assignment can be posted to any other channel, so they can remain threaded with the related content. However, the teacher must always create from the General channel and students can always access all of their assignments form that tab.
There is a gradebook in Microsoft Teams that can also be set up to write into a separate gradebook. Both students and teachers can access grades and feedback under the Grades tab in the General channel of a class team. In addition to literal grades, this is also a place for feedback in multiple formats. Teachers can view the entire class or zoom into a single student. They can also get an overview of all assignments or focus on a single assignment and filter by turned in, not turned in, or returned.
The Insights tab allows teachers to see trends in their students’ performance and participation. There are a variety of time periods that can be selected, and the dashboard can be viewed by specific assignments or overall engagement.
Posting Files in tabs
Tabs can be used long-term or permanently. But they really work best when you add tabs for what you will be using today, delete the tabs after you’ve used them and replace them with whatever you will be using in class tomorrow. That’s a great way to share documents and files with students. You can add a tab for a specific Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, or a section or page in a OneNote notebook. Generally you need to add those files to the Files tab first, and then you are essentially creating a link to them in the easy to locate tab at the top of the channel.
The numbered tabs in this image are Word documents. (Right-click on a tab to edit the name that appears.)
Add whatever files your students will need today and remove that convenient tab after today. They will still have access through the Files tab.
Apps in tabs
Another type of tab you can add is an app. Teams has partnerships with hundreds of education and productivity apps. This includes Microsoft products like adding a Forms quiz, poll or survey, and adding specific videos or even entire channels of videos with Microsoft Stream. But you can also embed a Nearpod lesson, a Quizlet set of vocabulary activities, and virtual tour in Think Link and many more. In addition to the convenience of making them available in a tab for easy access for students, these are not mere links. You are embedding the activity right onto the page in teams. Students don’t have to navigate away from Teams and find their way back after completing the activity. They complete the learning activity right on the page in Teams, which is great for littles and students with organizational challenges or issues with executive functioning.
Websites on tabs
What if the tool you are looking for doesn’t show up in your list of available apps to add in Teams? You can add it as a website. These function very similarly to apps, in that they open the site right inside of teams. You can still choose to open in a new window if you want a little more space, but this has all the same advantages as an app if you stay in Teams. No need to navigate to or from the website or Teams when you open the site embedded in your Teams window.
Teams is all about organization (and communication and collaboration). Because all tabs are part of a channel, you can keep tabs together in the channel with similar content. Tabs are a convenient shortcut that keeps todays work grouped together for your students.
Looking for more? How about the Remote Learning with Microsoft Teams Course Sign up to learn how to go from a complete novice in Teams to using Teams for your complete solution for remote learning.
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All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 75 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.