Microsoft Teams has been making a huge impact in the digital learning space throughout the pandemic by enabling teachers to deliver online learning to students no matter where they are and what device they are using.
However, giving students digital tools can produce both positive and negative results. For example, a school does not want to give students a platform for bullying or other damaging activities.
So can we address that?
School IT administrators can control student interactions through the policies, settings and eDiscovery sections in the Teams admin centre.
Policies can be customised by department, class or individual to determine what features they can use in Teams. Through these granular controls, IT administrators ensure students, teachers and staff are only using what they should be:
- Messaging – control who can use chat, if they can edit or delete messages (great for evidence gathering), whether they are allowed more creative use of communication, such as GIFs and memes, and set content ratings to reduce any inappropriate content being sent.
- Meetings – set policies on video, content sharing, recording, guest access and also media streaming rates (to keep a check on network traffic).
- Calling – decide if users can call each other, forward calls, park calls, voicemail and, if they have Teams as a phone system, choose caller ID settings.
- Apps – change the appearance of the Teams client to show the apps that students, teachers and staff are permitted to use. For example, in the image below, the calendar, calling and file apps are available, but not chat or group collaboration. Schools can also choose which third-party apps can be use alongside Teams if needed.
Most of the policies cover what a user can and cannot do within Teams, but there are other useful settings that can be enabled. For example, allowing external users or a guest to be included in Teams activities, such as chat and collaboration, and customising how our Teams invites look. You can even set quality of service (QoS) markers for better tracking of data packets across a network.
Something of a hidden gem within Teams, email and cloud storage, eDiscovery enables users to review content found in our Microsoft cloud estate. Sometimes used for safeguarding, administrators can search for certain words and eDiscovery will find that data (see below). There may be times where a request has come in asking for all correspondence in relation to a specific teacher or student, or where certain words need to be checked for to see if they have been communicated within groups or to individuals.
You can be reassured that compliance and security is at the heart of all Microsoft cloud platforms, especially with their education customers in mind. While Microsoft wants to help teachers effectively deliver online lessons, they want to safeguard students at the same time. I hope you have found this useful.