Communication and interaction with and amongst students using MS Teams
This article will show an example of how to use MS Teams for communication and interactions with and between students.
Course: NEM10806 Orientation Plant Sciences
Period: Period 6
Short introduction and background
Introduction and story behind the emergence of this learning activity. What was the need, what issue/problem was the teacher facing and wanted to resolve?
Within this course, students normally design and perform a research experiment within a group with live guidance of a supervisor. Since we could not meet-up on campus we faced a few challenges like how to keep in touch with your group members as a student and as a supervisor. How to facilitate contact between the groups? Normally this evolves naturally with live contact and now needed to be organised and facilitated.
We modified this learning activity, by asking the students to perform an experiment at home. In order to improve communication and student engagement, we decided to experiment with using MS Teams since we as teachers already had positive experiences with using the tool amongst ourselves.
Relevant tools / apps (software) or hardware used
- Public channels – information sharing
- Private group channel – smaller discussions
- Conference calling – for arranging group work, discussions
- Document sharing – writing a report together within the group, providing feedback
- MS Stream app on MS Teams – for sharing and uploading videos
What has been learned after this lesson/activity has been executed ?
Lesson idea / Learning activity
Specific description and demonstration of the lesson idea/learning activity.
We created two public channels within MS Teams for sharing official information to all students. The ‘announcement’ and ‘interview’ channel. This information was also available on Brightspace.
Figure 1: Example of communication within the ‘interview channel’
We also created private channels per group. These channels were exclusive for the group members and their supervisor. In this way they could communicate with each other about the research experiment by using the chat function, meeting live online and working together on files (simultaneously) or giving feedback on documents. The students experienced MsTeams as a less formal platform than Brightspace, as communication is on an equal level between the students and the supervisor. Response time is relatively quick and less formal and not visible to all peers which makes it easier to address any questions, not just the big official ones. Also, all communication took place via MS Teams (and not via a what’s app group what happens often when only using Brightspace) and the supervisor was in this way more aware of all that was happening within the group. In addition, because students did not have to use a WhatsApp group to facilitate communication between members, students could better separate their work and private life.
Figure 2: Private channel per group
We used the ‘general’ channel for informal communication between students, and between students and teachers. In this way, students could share their experiments with each other and interact in an informal and fun way.
Figure 3: Example of communication in the general channel
Via Microsoft Stream (MS Stream) we asked students to create and share video’s about their experiments and make it a fun competition. The MS stream channel allowed students to upload their own videos which were then immediately available to the other students. Students could also add comments and like each other’s video, facilitating engagement between groups. Via MS forms, students could vote for each other’s videos. This is also possible via the “like” function within MS Stream.
Figure 4: Example of the video assignment
Lessons learned / Tips
Mentions tips lecturer has for colleagues based on their experience.
What was good about this learning activity
- Improved communication
- It helped to build an online community and provided support to students
- Students perceived it as fun learning and a good tool for interacting and communicating with each other
- It is an excellent tool for group work
- With MS teams you can create attractive content
- We will keep on using MS Teams for sharing between groups even if we can go back to an on-campus setting
- It is not a replacement for Brightspace but can be used for additional support.
- You need to have clear communication guidelines for the channels and also what is communicated through Brightspace and what through MS Teams. Setting up a communication plan beforehand helps to guide teachers and students on where to post information.
- Take care not to overload your students with information
- Structure of your MS Teams team is important. Think beforehand on what you want to do, and what would be the best way to implement this.
- Orientate your students, also on the use of the tools. This can be done via small tasks and using polling to get an indication of how students experienced it. This can then guide the teacher on whether more guidelines are necessary.
- Make your announcements stand out by using the formatting options in MS teams.
- Break the ice by initiating the first contact.
- Make a personal connection, e.g. share your own experiences, make posts or comments in the general channel.
- Engage and make it fun.
Teacher(s): Jessica Vervalle; Jet Vervoort ; Geert Smant
Educational supporters/ESC contact (on MS Teams): Eline Noorbergen
Author (interviewer): Anniek Wintraeken
- Microsoft tutorials on how to set-up your MS Teams page: Microsoft Support
- Manuals for adding MS Teams within Brightspace: Brightspace Help for Lecturers
- Presentation on the use of MsTeams for student interaction: (video below)
- Demo of the use of MsTeams for student interaction: (video below)
Interested in learning more about Showcases of learning activities?