We recently visited the University of Nottingham to attend one of the Microsoft Teams roadshow events. As a team, we already use Microsoft Teams daily for communication, collaboration, and planning our time, and we’ve been helping some teaching staff in the School to start using it with students, but we were intrigued to find out more about what this new tool has to offer higher education in terms of learning and teaching. 

What is it? 

Microsoft Teams is one of many collaborative tools that are increasingly bring used in the workplace to boost productivity – SlackGoToMeeting, and FlowDock are all known for features such as instant messaging, file sharing and video conferencing. These kinds of communication tools sometimes combine with other applications for project management and poll-creation to create a hub for teams working together. 

Why use it with students? 

Given the trend upwards for remote working and working from home, it seems that these kinds of collaborative and communication tools are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. According to Microsoft, 91% of fortune 100 companies use Microsoft Teams, and both Slack and Teams have more than 12 million active users daily. Familiarity with using these tools in a classroom setting could be easily transferred into an employment context. It’s also possible to add in external guest speakers to a Teams meeting during a lecture or seminar, which could mean that students have the benefit of hearing directly from industry partners or other relevant speakers. 

Beyond employability considerations, the features of Microsoft Teams can serve as a planning, communication and collaboration hub for students, led by their module teaching team. 

How are people using it in HE? 

During the event we were shown the Microsoft Teams Scenarios Higher + Further Education Flipgrid page, where educators have shared their experiences of using Teams for teaching and learning. The video by Dr Tasos Lazarides, for example, explains that his students benefitted from multiple routes of support, and that the ability to add key documents or webpages as quick-reference tabs allowed students to easily find the guidance they need. 

We also learned about an innovative pilot at the University of New South Wales, where Dr David Kellerman wanted to promote collaboration and a sense of community in a class of hundreds of students that couldn’t congregate in the same physical space. Using Teams, Kellerman enabled the students who could not attend in person to stream videos of the lecture, ask questions from their own device to be answered live, and access all the class materials. The online discussion facility in Teams proved popular too, and all students who participated in the student experience survey agreed that they “felt part of the learning community.”

Using collaborative tools in your teaching 

NTU Arts and Humanities staff with a learning problem or project in mind can contact us at aah.ltsu@ntu.ac.uk to book a session with us – we can discuss your requirements and make recommendations of what tools will best support you.