Using teams in your online course

Teams has a wide range of possibilities and features for you to make the most out of your online teaching experience as well as your students. The Microsoft Teams Site from ITS offers a variety of tips, tutorials, and latest Teams updates for you to continue to immerse yourself. Download a Decision Tree that follows the best practices and guidelines for what you need to prepare when teaching with Teams, whether fully virtual, hybrid, or even in-person (Face to Face). Teams can be used to facilitate Synchronous Online sessions, as well as to pre-record videos or lectures for your course.

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Accessibility and Synchronous Online Meetings

  1. Restrict synchronous meetings for well-designed interactive discussion.
  2. Closed captioning is a universal design concept, and it helps students of all abilities, not just those with a hearing impairment. Think of a student working from home who has a lot of background noise, or an international student who is still refining their English. Everyone can benefit from closed captioning.
  3. In advance of the synchronous meeting:
    • Tell the students that there will be a synchronous meeting in which they will be expected to participate. This is critical for students needing to coordinate accommodations.
    • Provide handouts in advance so that students can read it prior to the meeting as it is difficult to read closed captions and read the hand-out during the discussion.
  4. During the meeting:
    • When using live captioning, be sure to pause and let closed captioning catch up, this can take 2-5 seconds sometimes. This allows all students the opportunity to read and respond to the topic before changing topics. It is recommended that you turn on live captioning as well to keep track yourself.
      Note: Students will have to turn on live captioning themselves and it is not something the professor can automatically enable. 
    • Record the meeting so that students can go back and review materials.
    • Allow students to post questions. Again, this is especially important for clarity of something that was not closed captioned correctly. Remember the accuracy of automated closed captioning is less than 70%, even less for technical/medical terms or for people who do not speak slowly or clearly.

Adding recordings to your course

Once completed, these meeting recordings will be located in either the Files tab of your Teams Site or the Recordings folder in OneDrive. For more information on the location of Teams video recordings, please refer to the webpage on TEAMS MEETING VIDEO RECORDINGS TO MOVE TO TEAMS RECORDINGS FOLDER OR ONEDRIVE.

Using Forms and Teams

Microsoft Forms is a pedagogical tool that allows for the creation of surveys and polls. These surveys and polls are easy to collaborate on and can be shared across multiple platforms. Forms functions great for group projects, gauging opinions, and can even be an online replacement to clickers. You can create Forms in either the Forms app, or in other Microsoft applications, such as Teams and Stream. Microsoft Forms is no replacement for D2L quizzes or tests, but it can be used to enhance your online course. The following guides will walk you through how to create Forms and use the application to compliment your course.

What should I tell my students about Teams?

It is very important that you are open and transparent with your students about what you expect from them in this new virtual climate. The guides below provide an example of what you can send to students or insert into your syllabus to shed some light on how the virtual aspect of your class is set up. Please feel free to use these documents and edit them at your own discretion.

What if Teams Goes Down?

What contingencies should instructors put into place in case Teams experiences a challenge this fall?

ITS indicates that while it is doubtful that all of Teams would go down, it’s not impossible. It would be more likely that the Teams meeting component would suffer an outage or aspects of Teams meetings would suffer an outage (e.g. meeting chat not available, 7x7 video not working, etc.).

In such an instance, recommendations would be:

  • Email students as soon as the issue is known. Let students know what they missed and that you will follow up with them.
  • Ask students to email you immediately if they experience issues connecting during class.
  • Alternatively, faculty could use texts or phone if that is their preference. Ideally, communication would happen in at least two ways (e.g., a news item on the D2L course site and an email to students).
  • Record a video on your computer providing the information you were planning to share during class time (use the resources on your computer to create these videos).
  • Set up a discussion board in D2L to answer any questions, complete an activity, etc.
  • An alternative could be to use D2L chat rooms. While it's not the same because it's all text-based, it's another way to interact in real-time with students during class time.
  • Email students a summary highlighting the key ideas, etc. of the day and offering to chat via phone or via Teams at a different time (assuming Teams is up and running within 24 hours).

The first two options (recording a video and a discussion board) can also be used for classes that have students online and in-person.  These options also offer varying approaches based on comfort level of using other technology.  

Additional Help

Please feel free to reach out to the Media team through the IT Services TechSquad under Teaching and Technology and then Distance Learning. We are here to answer any of your media needs and help troubleshoot any issues you may have. We look forward to helping you in your online and media creation journey.