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article imageMicrosoft takes its Teams enterprise chat app to classrooms

By James Walker     May 2, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced it's preparing a set of classroom-centric features for Teams, its enterprise chat service built to rival Slack. Teams will take on a new role in schools, letting students check assignments and discuss work while in class.
Microsoft introduced the new capabilities as part of its #MicrosoftEDU event today. After the launch of Windows 10 S – the company's new Windows version built to rival Chromebooks – Teams unexpectedly made an appearance to demonstrate a specially-configured classroom mode.
When installed in a school setting, Teams expands with a unique set of features appropriate to the scenario. The central Chat and Files tabs remain unchanged, letting students and teachers converse during work. There's also new features built specifically for schools though, including the option to take teacher-led quizzes and monitor homework tasks and assignments.
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft
Teams includes support for OneNote Class Notebook, a school-friendly OneNote version that allows teachers to monitor and edit students' digital notes. Now teachers will be able to start a discussion around class notes without leaving Microsoft's ecosystem. It also lets students continue the discussion outside of school or during assignments, overlapping with the mainstream messaging services already favoured by young users.
Adding education-focused features to an app built for the workplace might seem like a misstep ny Microsoft. The product even retains its original "Teams" name, a branding which could be incongruous in a classroom environment where collective work can be more important.
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft
Microsoft doesn't seem to be using Teams to develop team-building or group work in schools, instead focusing on how the product's existing features could already be useful to education customers. With a focus on chat and collaboration, there's obvious potential for teachers and students to place importance on Teams.
Teams' strong integration with the rest of Office 365 and Microsoft's cloud services makes it a good central point for the classroom, enabling everyone to stay on the same page. The enterprise-centric Teams edition includes support for third-party services but Microsoft hasn't confirmed whether these will also be available in the education version.
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft
There have been few previous attempts to get schools using chat services with their students so Microsoft will be the first to convince educators to try out the idea. Although the app's strong feature set could be appealing, it's possible the company could face resistance from schools unhappy with the increasing role of tech in classrooms. If Microsoft succeeds in getting students using Teams, there's potential for the role of physical communication with a teacher to be reduced.
Teams for Office 365 Education will be available from this summer, giving schools a few weeks to get started with the app before the return of term time. With Teams now just another part of Office 365, Microsoft already has a large pool of potential customers in the form of schools currently subscribed to the service.
More about Microsoft, microsoftedu, microsoft teams, Workplace, Schools
 
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