April 4, 2023
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How to Use Microsoft Teams to Engage Students in Virtual Classrooms

Many colleges today offer modular distance-learning classes or even a hybrid setup (with some online education classes and some in-person) for bachelor's to doctorate degrees. This makes it easier for many students to balance their academic requirements while working full-time and enjoying a robust social life. Although the physical classroom is no longer around, tools like Microsoft Teams have allowed students and teachers to experience an engaging and interactive learning environment in a virtual classroom setup. 

Microsoft Teams enlisted the help of educators so they could make their platform friendly for educators and learners. With various custom features like OneNote or Tabs and Assignments, teachers can provide streamlined learning options in the digital realm. At the same time, students can enjoy easy access to what they need from the comforts of home. For example, with a click of a button, a student can see assignments in one place and do my homework or other projects without missing the deadline. Check out how educators can integrate Microsoft Teams to create a cohesive learning online environment for students. 

Ensure Reliable Connection with Videoconferencing 

With Teams, teachers can connect to students and the latter with their peers through videoconferencing that accommodates large groups. It's perfect for synchronous class sessions. The teacher can designate a co-presenter to share tasks like an in-person classroom monitor. 

A "lobby" feature also allows participants to wait before the hosts let them into the meeting. It's comparable to students in the hallway before entering a classroom lecture. After the discussion, the teacher can write a thought-provoking question through Teams Posts, where the students can type in their replies. 

Robust Assignment Features with Insights

One of the primary challenges of distance learning is that teachers have less means and physical time spent assessing everyone's development. Teams created an Assignment feature that enables educators to: 

  • Create interactive and stimulating homework with integrated Office apps

  • Attach rubrics for grading to guide learners on what to do

  • Provide or attach resources from OneDrive, links, My Computer, etc. 

  • Set specific deadlines with appropriate reminders

  • Edit due dates and close assignment dates

  • Schedule future assignments ahead 

  • Personalize assignments and send them to one or several people 

All of these help students stay on track with their work. Moreover, an Insights feature gives educators a peek at what each student is doing on the platform. For example, they can see that an individual works online and submits assignments. And for those kids who complain that writing homework is difficult, so they need to custom essay order or seek guidance from adults; the teacher can see how long they've been inactive, how long it took them to complete the assignment, or if they skipped on passing the homework

An Avenue for Engaging Presentations

The Teams platform is not just for interaction but for making dynamic presentations that encourage participation and foster learning. Although the students can connect with each other through Teams, the teacher is the host who has complete control of the meeting. Teachers can do the following: 

  • Speak to the class directly

  • Share different videos to provide examples

  • Share screen 

  • Mute and remove participants 

  • Privately view lecture notes through PowerPoint while live

One of the best features is that the host can start or stop recording the meeting. This is an excellent option for asynchronous learning because teachers can easily share the recorded content, allowing individuals to study and have the support they need in their own time. And if the teacher wishes, the class can also make presentations to highlight what they've learned. 

How to Use Microsoft Teams to Engage Students in Virtual Classrooms

Utilize Channels to Model the Dynamics of F2F Learning

In face-to-face learning inside the classroom, teachers assign each person to a desk or break them into smaller groups for class discussions. The Microsoft Teams tool offers Channels mimicking the concept in the virtual world. This option makes it possible for students to collaborate and learn together. This also enables teachers to do the following for several groups composed of different team members: 

  • Customize resources 
  • Send tailored activities
  • Share private group messages 
  • Encourage small group interaction
  • Share Word or PowerPoint presentations

This function helps the teacher know what specific groups are doing and ensure they are on track. Furthermore, the Channels feature allows a teacher to set an alarm ringer, akin to a classroom bell in a physical school, that signifies the start of the class. The ringer can be customized into a greeting with different fonts, background colors, and images. The educator can also pin an announcement, like in homeroom classes, to inform every group. 

Give Students Autonomy to Handle Certain Functions

And the Channels feature isn't one-sided for teachers. Teachers can give the class freedom of interaction by turning on certain Channel features. They can enable functions that allow the classroom participants to write custom messages, attach files from the cloud or drive, use different GIFs, etc.  

Moreover, people who are not native English speakers also have the option to use a reading feature that changes text material into their native languages, or those who are struggling to read can opt to have the program read things aloud.

Customize Lessons with the Helpful Tabs

Finally, educators can make it easy for each class member to access lessons with various applications and tabs easily. For example, it's easy to incorporate tabs for resources like Beedle and Flipgrid. This allows teachers to customize their virtual classroom to make it look appealing to their students. 

With an integrated tab system, students and teachers don't have to scour their virtual classroom or go back and forth searching for what they need. Being able to designate sections for reading materials, homework, handouts, and other projects makes it smooth and simple for the students to access their course materials.

Final Thoughts

Online learning with virtual classrooms is here for the long haul. After the coronavirus, where schools shifted temporarily to remote learning, some areas are pushing for more digital learning opportunities. Faculty and students now expect an online option, especially for higher education. This means students from far away will have access to quality education even if they're far away. Microsoft Teams can help facilitate this process by providing teachers and students with exceptional tools that make distance education stimulating and engaging. 

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