Microsoft Classroom: Webinar Demo

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Thanks to Pugh and BFC Networks for allowing me to present on Microsoft Classroom today.

During the call we went through a few different aspect to help understand what you can do with a Microsoft Classroom class.

  1. What is Microsoft Classroom?
  2. What is an Office 365 Group?
    1. Conversations
    2. Calendars
    3. Files
    4. Notebook
    5. Connectors
  3. Microsoft Classroom
    1. Assigning
      1. Documents and Links (video)
    2. Completing
    3. Submitting
    4. Grading
    5. Conversations
  4. School Data Sync

I also mentioned during the call about a new podcast called the MS Edu Podcast where we talk about all the latest from Microsoft that help in the education sector.  You can get more of thing on the site.  Click Here –> MSEduPodcast

Join us today to talk about Microsoft Classroom

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Today I’ll be presenting on Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync, giving live demos and asking any questions you might have.

It is great to be able to partner with Pugh and my own company BFC Networks to present this and will continue to do so every other month with a date set for our next meet up in September (after the summer break).

Join us at 2.30pm for an hour (UK Time) and get to know more about this new exciting product from Microsoft

Sign up at Eventbrite look forward to speaking to you then.

30-06-2016 10-17-10

The Future of SharePoint: Office 365 Education

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On the 4th May, Microsoft hosted a 2 hour webinar demonstrating what they are bring to SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online in Office 365.  In the announcements they shared new features that are currently in Office 365 and their mobile apps as well as what they are developing.

As Office 365 Education is free, we are going to get these new features allowing you to get all these when they are released.  Here is a bit of a summary with an education twist with some ideas of what you could do when it is available.

Mobile

We work with students, the millennial generation – always wanting to use their mobile phone for communication.   There were a few announcements around mobile access to Office 365 and files within Office 365.

The OneDrive iOS app received an update yesterday allowing you to access both your OneDrive files but also SharePoint site document libraries.  In this latest update, you will see the Sites tab at the bottom which will then allow you to see all the sites you are following.  When selecting your site, it will then list the document libraries you have in that site.

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For those who use document libraries a lot as a shared document location, this is the perfect feature allowing you to access those files when you need them.  The sites you see are your “Follow” sites which you set in the top right of the site.  The app allows you to take files offline and edit them with your Office client which you will have a license for if you have an EES agreement and the Office 365 Education Plus licenses.

Getting students and staff to click that “Follow” button is important for their navigation – I haven’t yet found a way to do this based on a group so it has to be done by the user.

Microsoft also announced a SharePoint Mobile app and demonstrated this but it is important we take a look at other announcements around this first.

SharePoint

The first thing to note is that we will be getting a new landing page for SharePoint.  In the app launcher, where you see Mail, Calendar etc you will also see Sites.  This will change to SharePoint with a new landing page to help you navigate around all your SharePoint team sites.

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SharePoint Home

The left navigation is giving you the sites you currently follow – the same way you have sites in the mobile app above.  Next we have Recent, sites you have accessed but not marked as “Follow”.  We then have Links.

The main page is split in two Frequent and Suggested.  I don’t yet know the difference between Frequent and Recent but I’m guessing that Frequent are sites you visit often and files you use.  Suggested are recommended sites that it finds based on the other sites you follow and access. The home page is based on the Office Graph (linking people, documents and email together) so will always look a bit different based on the students work and files they access.

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Each site comes with a board (as they are known in Delve) showing recent information but also the template type such as Group, Blog and Video Channel.

If you are a heavy user of SharePoint in you school, college or university, this can be a great way of accessing the content that is important.  Getting the “Follow” system is also right so teachers can see the Staff areas for the whole organisation but also their departments.  We also want to make sure they can access any class sites and SharePoint Apps as well when they first arrive, not just when they have discovered their classes and sites.

New SharePoint Sites

One of the biggest frustrations I get from my education customers is that different devices in the classroom have with different screen sizes and a lots of websites and some of Office 365 has a responsive design.  SharePoint has been lacking in this space.

Published content can be added to team sites and helps to form news from your organisation.  You will be able to see this news both in a mobile app but also in the browser. Using the Office Graph, you will be able to see Blogs, News articles and other information as it is published keeping you up to date.  The responsive design of the new team sites, blogs and pages help to form the content at the screen size of your choice without any additional work.  With the SharePoint Framework (a new development model) your SharePoint partners and app providers will be able to build into these allowing you to have both your news but also information from external sources such as your MIS.

Creating Sites has become easily and will also provision an Office 365 Group so you get all you content, lists and files along with the communication and collaboration with Jeff Teper stating it will take around 5 seconds to create these when released.

 

There are two options.  A team collaboration site or a publishing site – the team site will create the Office 365 Group for your team while we didn’t get to see the publishing template.

Team sites have taken a new name.  What do you get when you mix teams sites and the modern Office 365 Groups?  That’s right, modern team sites!  You can still create your normal document libraries, lists and add meta data to sites but we get a few other options.  When we create a modern site, we are asked what compliancy level we would like to set it as, something we can set in the compliancy centre in Office 365.  The main new feature that I could see is the ability to spotlight content from the site in the News and Activity area of the site.

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These are also shown on the mobile experience and documents and pages can be pinned to the top for news and activity is drawn up by the power of the Office Graph.

Imagine a class now having an Office 365 Group which is part of Microsoft Classroom but now we can also add all sorts of content into our site, pinning files and pages to the top based on the lesson you are teaching.

Site Content will now tell you how your class site is being used.

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Pages

Schools still talks about wikis and the need to create pages.  Pages in the new sites are easy to create and very similar to Sway without all the styling.  Easily add a banner, content, documents, document libraries and other web parts to the pages.  The teacher can create a page on a per class or topic allowing students to get the documents, images and other systems that integrate with SharePoint all in one page (a little bit more than what Sway offers).  It will also build the page as responsive design so it can easily be read in the SharePoint app.  I should add here – no more stupid web part galleries – a lot easier when you click on the plus, it gives you the options.

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Document Libraries

For those of you who have First Release enabled in their Office 365 Education tenant.  You may have seen a new layout to Document Libraries.  This will be released to all documents over the coming months giving the same experience as your users get in OneDrive.  If you navigate to a document library now, you will see this experience but in the demo and videos they showed the ability to pin documents to the top of the library.  Again something useful if you want students to be able to see important documents for that lesson.

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We also have a new feature that I think will be welcomed very warmly by allowing you to copy or move files from one document library to another.  This also includes the ability to copy a file from OneDrive to a SharePoint site that you follow.  There should now be no reason for a teachers to have a memory stick or a file to be stuck in their OneDrive that you can’t access 😉

Lists

Lists have become easier to manage, filter and edit with quick view, a fly out option to update the meta data but also the ability to create your own views that can be accessed in the browser and the browser through PowerApps.  We’ll take a deeper look at PowerApps another time but there are some great features here.  PowerApps has just arrived as Public Preview so you can access it now.

Microsoft Flow

Have you ever wanted to create a simple workflow so when something happens to a file or item in a list, it emails your or something else with a third party product – some of you may have done this already with SharePoint Designer.  Microsoft Flow will give you the ability to do this in a visual way in the browser.  Are you expecting all your students to upload their home work to a document library and you want an email to tell you that it has been uploaded.  You can create these in the browser using this new features in Office 365.

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Conclusion

Well if you are still reading, you have realised that there is a lot to this the announcements.  I almost found it too difficult to take it all in and we haven’t even talked about the new development framework called the SharePoint Framework, the hybrid options, SharePoint 2016 and that a lot of these features will come to your own environment during 2017 in Feature Packs.  I hope this gives you an insight to what can happen with the free platform and the opportunities you may get from it for your education establishment.

First Look at Microsoft Classroom

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As Microsoft increase their competition against Google and release more features for Office 365 Education, we get to see another new feature that is currently in preview for US based customers.  Along with Office Forms, we now get Microsoft Classroom, a great example of how Software Integrator can build on top of the Office 365 platform but mainly Office 365 Groups.

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Microsoft Classroom integrated communication and collaboration through Office 365 Group but also their ever growing in popularity OneNote Class Notebook into a single web application available at http://classroom.microsoft.com.

With Google pushing hard with Google Classroom, the ability to assign work, communicate and collaborate for Microsoft customers as part of the free offering has become an increasing demand but of course, Microsoft have a great platform that offers so much more.

With OneNote, OneDrive, Office Online, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, the desktop and mobile apps available for the platform, educators are going to get a great experience that fits everyone in the classroom.  Bringing all of these in will allow teachers to select what they want to do with their class but with its integration with Microsoft School Data Sync (ability to have all your classes created for you as part of your MIS timetable) it is also easy for teacher to just get going with their class.

Whether it is file assignment and scoring, communication through email/Exchange or working collaboratively in OneNote Class Notebook a teacher can get straight into or even create their own classroom for extracurricular clubs, sports teams and other classes not on timetable.

The landing page of Microsoft Classroom looks a bit bare when you first log in but don’t worry, once you are assigning work, you’ll see everything on this page.

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As you create your classes you will see them down the left hand side in the Assignments navigation panel.  This will load a few different things onto your page and loos very similar to the design of Office 365 Groups.

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From here I can get quick links to a few different areas including the Groups Calendar, Conversations, Class Notebook and Files.  When I arrive onto a class landing page, I can see the Assignments set with details around those and give announcements for the class.

When I go to manage the class I can change the class name, give it a course number, start and end date and set a colour, logo (the chess piece) and top banner.

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Creating a new assignment is easy with the ability to assign this work to multiple classes at the same time.  I can set a title, end date, description before adding an attachment should I wish.

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You can pull in several types of attachments including links to a page within OneNote Class Notebook, upload a new file, select one from OneDrive and also any files stored in the Office 365 Group.  We also have a built in search engine (I’m assuming Bing) to link to those results for either a website or video (video sources including YouTube).

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When selecting Calendar, Conversations, Files it will open a new window to the Office 365 Group while Class Notebook will give you a link to the Notebook.

The version I have available is very different to the video below – take a look at the video and you’ll see some extra features and branding which will help take it to the next level.

Responses in Office Forms

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Yesterday I posted about my first experience of Office Forms and attached a form at the bottom for users to play with to answer my questions.  The form had three questions which were three different types of question types available which include Choice (used multiple choice), Text and Rating and I wanted to share the results so you could see what it looked like.  I spent the day watch the numbers grow and it also changes as more answers came through.  So thank you to the 32 who responded even though many of you may know nothing about the English Premier League and Aston Villa.

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The first question was multiple choice but I also left in an option for you to fill in your own.  People filled in the normal 4 answers but there were 5 other options added.  These 5 were added but not available to others to see.

The results first started as a pie chart but once we had 6 different types of answers it moved to being the bar chart.

Next to each question you can see a two way arrow in the top right.  When selecting this you get a table of answers.  Of course lots of these are anonymous but if the user is logged in, you can see who said this from their Azure AD display name.

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The second question was free text but did not have a requirement around it (where you needed to answer the question).  From the 21 people who did answer, on the home page (the first image of this post) you can see the last 3 responses but again when selecting the arrows you can see all answers.

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The final question was a rating (and thanks to those who rated Aston Villas season as a 2.68 our of 5 as I feel it was a lot worse than that).  By selecting the arrows you can see each users response.

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I mentioned yesterday that you could download a Excel spreadsheet of all the answers.  I still wish there was an option which asked if you would like to send it to your OneDrive for Business but just being able to get it in Excel is great.

In here we can see each of the users responses, time and who they were (with their User Principal Name as well as their Display Name).  The spreadsheet is already formatted with a table and easy to navigate.  The multiple choice question has each of their answers in the single cell while the others have their answers as well.

The spreadsheet is a lot better to see who answered what across the form.  When selecting the arrows in the browser you can’t easily navigate to see what the user gave across all their answer so this spreadsheet does help with that.  Just to take this data and add it to PowerBI now.

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First look at Office Forms for Office 365

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It caught me by surprise when Microsoft announced Office Forms in Office 365 Education as Microsoft have announced that only Education customers would get access to a preview.  With InfoPath forms now in extended support and no new solution from Microsoft, something like Office Forms was hoped to take your company forms to the next level.

Microsoft announced Office Forms would come to Office 365 Education customers first, so I jumped onto the my education test tenant and requested access.  Heard nothing back but found the URL from a recent blog post and decide to take a look and there we go, we have Office Forms.

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So there a few things to note from my first experience with this preview and these are mainly around the Forms you can build.

I’ve logged in with my organisation ID and the solution has its only app launcher style (not the Office 365 one).  At any time if I click on the Office logo/Forms in the top left, it takes me back to the landing page at the top.  Selecting the top three dots in the top right gives me chance to give Feedback, get help, navigate to my Office 365 Account Profile and sign out.

It’s very much has a bit of a Sway look and feel to the site with the rectangle box for each Form.

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When selecting New it very quickly takes you to a new form which I see this mainly as just a quizzing tool.  So for all you budding InfoPath specialist or SharePoint people expecting this to be the replacement, it not (well at least not at the moment).  It’s not asked me to create anything in SharePoint, asked for a relation with a Office 365 Group nor have I found anything that has changed in my Office 365 tenant so I believe this is a stand alone product.

Creating a Quiz

Having selected a new form, I can then start to create my quiz.  I can easily give it a name and a subtitle and then start to add my quiz questions.

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We have three types of questions we can ask which include Choice, Text and Rating.

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Choice really is what we expect with an easily to fill out question and options feature.  By default we have 2 answer options but can easily add more as well as an Other option allowing the user filling out the quiz to give their own answer.

We can also set allow multiple answers and set whether this question has to be answered (Answer Required).  We also have the ability to add a subtitle to the question should we want to give more context.

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A Text question allows you add a question and for the user to have free text for either a short or long length answer.

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With the Ratings question you can ask the user to give something either out of 5 or 10.  They can select their answer either as a number or a star.

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Sharing my Quiz

Once we have finished our quiz we don’t need to worry about saving as it has done this throughout the use of the webapp.  At the top, we can now Preview and Share the form.  We can preview it for both a computer view (your current view) or by selecting Mobile, see what it would look like in this state.

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You can share it as a URL, sending an email, it will provide you with a QR Tag or get a set of embed code.  You can also state at this point if users have to log in access the question and if they are allowed to answer the whole quiz multiple times.

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At the bottom of that fly out, you will see ‘More share settings’.  There are some great features here allowing you to apply a deadline and also for questions to be shuffled when loading allowing you to use this as a great classroom quiz.

Responses

The Responses tab gives you a great visual look at how people have answered with graphs, responses and the average score in a rating.

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There is also a Open in Excel which will download the quiz to your PC – I’m hoping this will be replaced with a Save to OneDrive option soon.

What to see my quiz, take a look at the bottom.

Transfer OneNote Class Notebooks

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As I’ve said every time I blog about the OneNote Class Notebook, this ever growing in popularity tool is a great addition to any classroom whether you have a 1:1 ratio of devices or not.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the product as Microsoft push hard with the marketing effects of the pen and OneNote, I want to make sure that when I work with customers I can be making recommendations about the product as well as how to implement it.  This is one of the reason why I wrote an implementation guide before the OneNote Class Notebook appeared in the App Launcher.

App Launcher

The app launcher version has made it easier to create the Notebooks but does have one downside which is that it stores the OneNote in the teacher OneDrive.  This has enabled the teacher full access and can do whatever they need and take advantage of their unlimited storage in OneDrive for Business without the need of an administrator.

Teachers can come and go throughout a students 5 – 7 years at a school both during a school year and at the end of the academic year and with many systems now integrating with Office 365 Education, users are created automatically from the MIS or finance system.  Of course these systems also can remove users and their licenses from Office 365.  If a users SharePoint or OneDrive license is removed, the OneDrive is still active for another 14 days before the delete it completely removed/deleted.  Of course we don’t want this to happen to the students work so Microsoft have built a PowerShell script around the OneNote Class Notebook API to help transfer these Notebooks between teachers.

Take a look at the link below to the script on GitHub and just remember to transfer the content before that 14 days have run out.

https://github.com/OneNoteDev/ClassNotebookTransferAPISample

Change All Faculty and Students to Office 365 Edu Plus Licenses

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We have seen many changes to Office 365 but Office 365 Education changes even more as Microsoft given more free services to education establishment worldwide.  Back in September 2015, Microsoft gave some of the E3 features to Office 365 and renamed the license from Office 365 E1 for Student (Faculty) to Office 365 Education for Student (Faculty), still free.

During the announcement around making the Office client available through Office 365, better known as Office 365 Pro Plus, Microsoft made it easy for students and teachers to get the software by asking for their email address and check their licensing records to then give them Office 365 Education.

You may have noticed this added over 1.5 million licenses to your tenant allowing you to change all your users to this new license.  This license is now called the Office 365 Education PLUS for Student (Faculty) license.

So you now have the ability to give all your students and staff Office 365 Pro Plus as you have these licenses added to your tenant, but to assign them to each of your users is time consuming and you may already have disabled other plans such as Skype for Business.  Something that can be time consuming.

The below script runs and checks to see what services are assigned to each user, removes the current license and then add the Plus license with the same disabled features as previous.  It will also check to see if their currently have a faculty or student license and ensure the right one is licensed.

You will need the Azure AD PowerShell install to make this run and also connected to your tenant (Connect-MSOLService).

 

OneDrive is not the location for Business Data

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Over the past few months I’ve noticed more Office 365 solutions and Add-Ins that use OneDrive as the location to store data. This has always concerned me as I see OneDrive for Business a very different solution to others so I hope this brings some clarity to my thinking and hopefully start a discussion where either I will be put right or wrong.

Lets remember what OneDrive for Business is first. It’s a storage place for you to store data within your Office 365 tenant. But what is more important is how do we get this personal storage? OneDrive for Business is part of a SharePoint license. You can assigned a user a SharePoint Online license and they can access what they are given access to but they do have OneDrive straight away.

Now here is my main point. A users OneDrive is only a temporary location of storage during the life of an organisation. A users OneDrive is created when that user is licensed. When the license is removed, the OneDrive is deleted 30 days as part of an Office 365 retention policy meaning any data that is not backed up or achieved from that location is deleted and not recoverable.

Knowing this, do you want business critical data stored in a temporary location. If data is important and needs to be kept when this user leaves or the license is removed, you need to ensure that you have your business continuity.

So how should we use OneDrive?
• OneNote Notebooks – Your notes from meetings. If you need to share them for business use, store them in the right location such as CRM if they are customer based or the SharePoint team site.
• Expenses Forms (Before submitting)- While you fill out your form during the month but then an app is used to send the files to the right SharePoint team site or third party location

Where I feel you shouldn’t be using OneDrive
• Customer Note
• Customer opportunity information
• Customer proposals – this includes draft version. These should be stored in the right location
• Business critical data

If a member of staff leaves and you decide to archive their OneDrive to SharePoint Online – why? Why not make them store this information in there anyway.

It makes me wonder why we need more than 1TB of storage in OneDrive for Business – what do you need to store in there for it to be 1TB, or 2TB, 10TB and of course this only increases as we will soon get unlimited storage. Just because OneDrive for Business has more storage available to you than SharePoint Online, does not mean you should store your data there.

So please do let me know your thoughts, am I right, wrong or should I be thinking it in a different way?

OneNote Class Notebook Implementation Guide

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In the past 9 months we have seen a new add-in added to all Office 365 Education tenants which has encouraged people start using OneNote as a tool in the classroom allow a teacher and their students to view and share notes between each other.

The tool have moved through a few updates and is seeing further implementation in classrooms around the world.

I’ve recently been at some of our customers where they have implemented OneNote Class Notebook and they as they start to think about technology for the next academic year, they wanted some guidance around what to do next.

In this article, I’ve tried pass on how I see the product and explain why OneNote and the Class notebook should be considered and how the setup of the add-in at this moment in time works with academic years.

It then goes onto considerations how you should implement it across your tenant. Its not as easy is implementing it and using it as this is not what you do with normal student notebook (in paper format). This also talks about some of the limitations you might get with the Office 365.

The final section is a bit of a guide to implementing a structure around the add-in and how you can do this.

Special thanks to Alan Richards (Office 365 MVP) for his input on this.

Click here or the image below to download the whitepaper

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