We are a Microsoft tools for teachers and Google Apps For Education tools for both staff and students in our district. There was a day when I was very vested in the MS Office Suite of tools. Then comes Google Drive, making document collaboration a much more user-friendly experience. Yet, teachers transitioned from MS Outlook client to the full Office 365 experience and that’s where we are at today.
I’ve heard so many great things about Microsoft Teams for teaching groups and PLC collaboration. I am part of a 3 teacher advisory team overseeing an 8th-grade leadership group of students. We created a group chat via SMS, which was OK. However, our conversations blended professional topics along with personal events. The combination made it difficult to find school business entries in a long SMS message thread.
While listening to Windows Weekly podcast on the TWIT network, they mentioned at various levels how great Microsoft Teams was and growing in popularity. It was already in our Office 365 tools, so we decided to take it for a test drive. It makes for a safe way to continue our school group chat conversations, with end-to-end encrypstion. Secure chat should be at the top of any school’s list as educators communicate sensitive student information on a regular basis.
After I created our team, we all downloaded the Microsoft Teams app for our phones. Two Android phones and one iPhone, we connected with ease. The chat feature was super user-friendly and we were all in right away. Then we created a Word document with our key Google Drive shared document links, for easy access. All seemed good, but not great yet.
Then I stumbled on a link to add Google Drive to our team. Super easy and now our journey took on a productive path. We were already using our Outlook Calendar for planning advisory events and school business. Our calendar planning was integrated with ease.
Yes, it's still early using this Microsoft tool and a new adventure for professional connected technology. Early reviews are very good for our small team. The Microsoft Teams usability is much easier than creating a new habit. I have to say I’m so fortunate to work with two very forward thinking educators, who were open to trying it. More to come later.