Case study – Teams and Whiteboard

The hybrid model- How to enhance students’ engagement in synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.

Maria D Iglesias Mora, Lecturer

School of Humanities, Languages and Global Studies


“As educational institutions transition to hybrid models, they have the opportunity to reimagine education and build a learning environment that incorporates all of the dimensions of a quality learning experience.” Fullan, M., Quinn, J., Drummy, M., Gardner, M. (2020)

This academic year has brought many challenges to educators. Many of us are suddenly finding ourselves having to deliver sessions bi-modally, that is, to accommodate students who are physically on campus and those who are attending remotely to the same session/seminar.

How can we make sure both set of students can collaborate and interact with the same content? 


​​​​​​​I have experimented using the following tools via MS Teams:

MS Whiteboard: At the start of each session, I give students time for a quick recap on what they have learnt in previous seminars by using MS Whiteboard. This allows them to begin engaging straight away. This also gives an opportunity for both sets of students (those working remotely and those on campus) to interact with the whiteboard at the same time.

Writing on ms whiteboard

Breakout rooms or separate channels in MS Teams: Students are divided into small groups to solve problems, discuss concepts. Students joining remotely can also work with students attending in-person. Interestingly, I found out that those students who are normally reluctant to open their cameras in the plenary are happy to do so when working with their peers in smaller groups in the breakout rooms. These interactions give a “voice” to all the students and allow them to participate together whilst in synchronous sessions.

channels and posts in teams

Collaboration space in Class Notebook: This area of Class Notebook provides students with specific tasks and allows them to collaborate simultaneously with the content during live seminars both on campus and remotely. Therefore, students can work in small groups and can interact with the materials (synchronously). They are also encouraged to work together ‘outside’ the class time (asynchronously) if not enough time left during the seminar. Both sets of students can access the Collaboration space at any time. This also foments group/teamwork and enhances group cohesion.

How to do this:

  • I start by creating different channels (or breakout rooms) in the Teams space.
  • I also need to prepare beforehand the materials the students are going to interact with in the Teachers Only area of Class Notebook.
  • In the Collaboration space, equally, I create several sections (i.e.: Group A, group B, etc).
  • During the synchronous sessions, students (both, those working from home and on campus) will be divided into different groups.
  • Once they know which group they are in, I direct them to the Breakout rooms. From there, each group will be assigned to go to a specific section (group) in the Collaboration space in their Class Notebook. This way, they can work together (as they will be communicating with each other  in the breakout rooms); but they will also be able to interact with the materials simultaneously (as they will be able to work together). For example, they can listen to a short recording and complete the task together, they can type on the page to fill in the gaps, they can drag and drop on the same page. The tutor can move to each section at any point and give some immediate feedback using the stickers. Some examples below:​​​​​​​
Examples of annotated text giving feedback
Example of well done feedback sticker
Example of feedback sticker

​​​​​​​Therefore, the Collaboration space in Class Notebook provides a blank canvas with the sort  of activities students would normally be expected to be involved with in the physical classroom; but now with the added possibility to facilitating  collaboration and discussion with those students that are working remotely.


Fullan, M., Quinn, J., Drummy, M., Gardner, M. (2020), “Education Reimagined; The Future of

Learning”. A collaborative position paper between New Pedagogies for Deep Learning and Microsoft Education.

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