Introducing Microsoft Teams for collaborative learning
Deborah Spencer – Senior Lecturer, School of Sport and Health Sciences
Microsoft Teams was introduced to many of the course modules. While most students engaged with it, there was surprise about how some students struggled with the technology. Being mostly mature female students, they demonstrated the much-reported lack of IT skills which is prevalent in the literature. There are several lessons to learn in this, which will be considered in the next academic year.
The benefits to students of using Teams are numerous, with the instant communication with the group being the primary one. Students who post queries can be responded to by any of the team or by fellow students, which can often help to close an issue down. There have been negative experiences in relation to this, where some students have been critical, rather than evaluative, which has come over as being a little too personal. This was hard for the module leader to deal with and manage at the time, but colleagues helped them to deal with the negative effect of the experience. A private chat was received from one of the students who was concerned about the negative comments, which she felt did not reflect the group, and which was very reassuring to the module leader!
Another positive aspect of using Teams is that it can help in the evaluation process, dealing with issues as they occur rather than within the normal evaluation phase. However, one potential issue is the way that the application is accessed on mobile devices. This can sometimes make staff feel they are never away from it, and managing the alerts and notifications is therefore vital for a positive work life balance.
It was also found that using teams for one of the groups of postgraduate students proved to be extremely beneficial to both the student and the tutor, and it allowed fears and anxieties to be allayed in a much more immediate way than by email. The opportunity for students to share resources with each other was also extremely valuable, whereas previously this would have happened in private groups like WhatsApp, where the tutor was unable evaluate the processe