Staff communities in Teams
Sabina Gerrard – Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing
Setting up a virtual staff room through the use of Microsoft Teams, created a platform where colleagues could communicate and ask questions which could be aimed at anyone within the Adult Nursing team. With advice from Chris Melia, the Faculty Learning Technologist, tutors Sabina Gerrard and David Stein, set up the Teams staff area.
The project initially considered how other staff were using Teams before deciding on what the School needed, and other colleagues in the Adult Nursing Team were then consulted to gauge their thoughts and ideas. It was then decided which other lecturers would be included in the Teams area. However, this soon changed, and it was decided that all Adult Nursing team would be given access. The feeling amongst staff was that it was like being given a new toy; all shiny and bright, and as a result, more lecturers started to use it as a platform to ask questions, where an answer was not needed from a specific individual and where an immediate reply was not always needed.
The Teams staff room channel was found to be effective, and at least a couple members of staff remained quite active. However, activity in the staff room did became quiet for a few weeks, for example during periods of leave, then the Teams channel did not always pick up pace upon their return. It was found that there was a need for some staff to take on the role key drivers to ensure active engagement by others.
Once the Teams staff room had been running for a few weeks an initial team peer DigiLearn session was arranged. The aim was to create an area where staff could come together with their Surface Pros and practice together using an application such as Microsoft Teams. The intention was to create a relaxed environment where people could learn from each other as it was discovered that staff used the applications in different ways. This allowed people to learn from each other and to explore the technology, knowing that it was OK to get it wrong or to not always know how to do things. The group session created a sense of motivation to continue using the technologies. It was decided that throughout the year, each session would to focus on different applications depending on the needs of the team. Even though some colleagues were very confident with the use of different applications, the group sessions allowed lecturers to stop and take the time to learn something new. The portability of the Surface Pros was important in enabling staff to hold these kinds of peer sessions.
Progress has been made in helping staff to develop and share skills, but it’s also accepted that there is still much more that can be done to enhance staff learning. As more peer DigiLearn sessions are organised, more ideas can be shared on how skills can be transferred to the classroom environment and to enhance the learning and teaching of students.