Education Remotely – Using Microsoft Teams to Conduct Online Classes

Professors are learning to use new tools and strategies as they make the switch from face-to-face teaching to online delivery.

Kevin Griffin teaches a paramedic leadership course and also works in DC’s Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment. He began using Microsoft Teams earlier in the semester and says it’s a vital tool now more than ever.

“I decided to commit to it and have actually transitioned online. That class has actually been really easy because the students were already all in [Teams] and they were already using it,” says Griffin. “So, I used it for the week-to-week, in-class activities.”

Griffin says while DC Connect is a great platform, MS Teams is great for facilitating group work and collaboration.

Microsoft Teams is available through Microsoft 365, and is a communication and collaboration application that enables live chatting, video conferencing, file sharing and more. Griffin explains exactly how he directed his class to participate in a group project from home.

“There was a case study they had to read. There were some guiding questions that they had to answer,” Griffin explains. “When we started the session, I was running a meeting using the ‘Meet Now’ option. Once I framed what they were responsible for doing, I sent them over to their individual groups.”

Griffin says only students assigned to certain groups are able access the content. He adds he has admin capabilities and could enter each group to see if students had any questions or needed support.

Beyond being a useful tool in the current climate surrounding COVID-19 and social distancing, Griffin points out that Microsoft Teams can be used even when classes resume. He says it would be a great way for students unable to attend class to continue to participate.

He describes how he uses Teams as a tool to provide in-process grades. “The theory behind in-process marks, I’m okay with,” says Griffin. “I don’t want to give someone marks purely for attending my class. I want them to come in and demonstrate that they’ve learned something or have engaged with it <the course content>.”

Griffin says applications like Microsoft Teams would enable students to continue to work to achieve their marks even if they aren’t present. He says that with Teams, he’ll be able to encourage interactivity on a weekly basis. The tool allows him to track participation within the application.

Microsoft Teams not only is proving to be a useful tool for Griffin, but the CAFÉ also has uses it to continue their operations remotely. It’s something Griffin says he hopes fellow faculty and professors consider using it in the future.

“Because Teams came to us mid-semester, you didn’t have that opportunity for people to kind of look and explore it,” says Griffin. “This unique situation has pushed us to make decisions and move forward faster than what people are used to so now you’re seeing people starting to say: ‘OK, maybe Teams is a good option’.”

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