July 4, 2020

Enhancing Microsoft Teams for Effective Learning

Article

With over 75 million active users, Microsoft Teams has become one of the most utilized collaboration platforms in the online space.

Even before quarantine conditions made a push towards online learning and digital workspaces, organizations worldwide have taken on the Microsoft Teams platform adoption in hopes of keeping their colleagues connected while they are apart.

Microsoft Teams: Where to Begin?

However, after the platform installation is complete, there is still much to learn about Microsoft Teams and all that it offers over the basic video and chat options. The following article will serve as an activation guide for Microsoft Teams, highlighting some of the most important features for you to be aware of when looking to build a dynamic digital workspace for collaborative learning, working, and connecting online.

The first step in getting onboard with any new technology is adoption. But after that, how do you get the momentum going within your workforce? With so many amazing features to utilize, how can you jumpstart user adoption and begin creating the thriving digital workplace that will create community, collaboration and quality training for years to come?

Microsoft has prided itself on having easy-to-use, yet increasingly agile tools. Microsoft Teams is just one example of this type of multi-faceted tool which can prove to be intimidating until you ‘hit the ground running’ and actually begin putting the tool to work. This can also impact user adoption if employees aren’t aware of how or why a new platform will benefit their day-to-day workload. The easiest way to combat this is to dive straight in and get comfortable with the numerous benefits that Microsoft Teams provides. Below, we will highlight some of the basic start-up elements and how you can use them to create the learning and working environment of your dreams.

Maximizing Your Microsoft Teams

Above creating online areas for employees to collaborate, Microsoft Teams allows managers and L&D departments to create a sense of community and a solid foundation for social learning in the online space. Utilizing Teams in this way expands the possibilities for how employees can learn new skills, participate in team projects, and share success stories, making the platform a catalyst for deep connection and employee evolution. Let’s see just how you can enhance your Microsoft Teams use from the standard online meetings and chats to a collaborative learning environment for your organization.

Building Teams, Channels, and Communities

One of the first things users will want to do is, of course, create a team within the Microsoft Teams platform. This is done by selecting the Join or create a team tab, and then clicking Create a new team. Once you have created a new team, you can invite people to join it, either by individually adding users or entire contact groups from a distribution list. The platform even allows you to invite people from outside of your organization to a team, without them needed a Microsoft Teams username or subscription.

When a Team is created, you have the choice to assign a team owner to be the manager of the designated team. This can be done by going to the Members tab, finding the people you would like to designate as owners, and changing their Role to Owner in the menu. In this way, you can begin activating your employees by giving them ownership of their own teams or departments within the platform. So, the Head of Marketing can be designated as the owner of the ‘Social Media’ Team, allowing them to invite external advisors and consultants that they might be collaborating with on upcoming projects. More responsibility and abilities are given to the employees and Microsoft Teams become self-managed.

Another helpful element that can be added to any team is a channel. Channels are specific collections of tools or resources that might exist within a team. For example, perhaps the ‘Social Media’ group has its own dedicated learning channel within the team. This could be where L&D or team owners add information regarding social media best practices or links to outside research on boosting social presence. Channels can be edited to only include selected people from the team, or all members can be automatically added. You also have the option to pin tabs to specific channels such as OneNote, webpages links, or OneDrive documents, so that members can easily find the information in the designated channel. And because members have the option to be notified whenever new information is added, no content is missed or lost in the daily shuffle.

Meet Anytime, Anywhere

The ability to create and host meetings within the Teams platform is one of the most frequently used features. However, many aspects of Microsoft Teams meetings are still unknown or underutilized by users. Basic meetings in Microsoft Teams include audio, video and screen sharing for up to 300 individual participants. And like mentioned before, meeting attendees do not have to be members of the organization to join in. But it doesn’t stop there.

Meetings in Microsoft Teams can be directly scheduled within a specific team or channel so that all members of the team are notified about the upcoming meeting. Simply use the calendar to invite your team and the meeting will be automatically posted, making it convenient for members to join and participate. Now let’s say one team member is unable to attend the online meeting: that’s not a problem. Meetings can be recorded and saved to the team or channel for later review. These meetings can even be transcribed so the notes can be added as a file in the team, making it accessible to members who might need to reference it at a later time. But what about those huge company meetings and trainings with attendees from multiple departments?

With Microsoft Teams’ break out rooms, you can add private channels where the individual departments can connect and follow-up after the meetings. Perhaps HR makes a private channel for new hires where they can introduce themselves to the other new employees and ask any questions they might have about their onboarding training. Or the Finance department can create a private break out room where their team can further discuss how the new initiatives introduced in the company-wide meeting will affect the day-to-day operations of their financial analysts.

Microsoft Teams’ innovative meeting capabilities also allow online instructors to create virtual classrooms where they can securely and easily move employee training online. L&D and other virtual trainers can share content before, during and after specific trainings, and all members will be notified when the information is made available. And with the Microsoft Teams platform, meeting attendees have dedicated chats where they can share training notes, ask questions regarding the virtual meeting, or even link to outside sources that can foster more learning for the whole team.

Share Content through SharePoint Pages

Microsoft’s SharePoint works perfectly with Microsoft Teams, allowing users to easily create full web pages that can be shared in the Teams channels. If you’ve found yourself repeatedly linking to copious webpages in your team, you can try creating a static SharePoint page with a collection of links or training notes. This SharePoint page acts as a ‘homepage’ where users can easily search for and select the information they need, making it a great way to maximize time and content sharing.

Say L&D wants to make a static SharePoint page with all of the upcoming meetings and training events for the company: Simply create the SharePoint page, and in the dedicated team or channel, add a tab by clicking on the + symbol, and select SharePoint to add the link to your informational page. Like that, this page is now available to all team members and easily reduces the back and forth searching and updating of information. This is a perfect way for L&D or other department managers to disperse important content that is easily shared and accessible within the Microsoft Teams platform.

Learning in the Flow of Work

Bersin has pioneered the concept of Learning in the Flow of Work, expressing the importance of positioning skill development and employee learning as a natural part of the daily work flow. As Microsoft Teams integrates seamlessly with a whole host of applications, it serves as a superior platform to create a robust learning and working environment online.

One type of application that really boosts Microsoft Teams Learning in the Flow of Work ability is a Learning Platform or Learning Management System (LMS). A learning platform typically has its own environment where training courses, employee learning content and company development support is housed. But when integrated with Microsoft Teams—like the dedicated LMS365 platform—a learning platform can highly improve employees’ access to these learning opportunities and quality trainings.

With LMS365, Teams users can simply add a tab to any team or channel and select a specific training course through the LMS365 app to add the course directly into the teams’ feed. Through Microsoft Teams, L&D can share available courses through dedicated channels, manage training progress by connecting with employees who might need extra guidance, and enable members to take ownership of their learning by empowering them with easy to find learning opportunities. With Microsoft Teams and an integrated LMS, working and learning online flows seamlessly.

Revel in the Productivity and Possibilities of Microsoft Teams

Dedicating time and energy to the adoption of a new tool is one step, but maximizing your use of that tool is another, critical step. To ensure that your Microsoft Teams adoption efforts—and financial investments—don’t go to waste, it’s important to jump right into to using the expansive platform and educating your team on how they can make it their own.

With an enhanced understanding of the Microsoft Teams platform and features, users are empowered with a collaborative learning experience, in a familiar environment, that can be customized for their unique learning and working style. And when matched with an agile Learning Platform such as LMS365, L&D departments can more confidently maximize their training potential in the online space. To see exactly how LMS365 is integrated and implemented with Microsoft Teams, check out the full adoption video here.