Bett 2020 part two – No ‘I’ in Teams

In part two of our coverage of BETT 2020, Steve Ganfield explores the possibilities of using Microsoft Teams to facilitate student and researcher collaboration.

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Obligatory Firefly selfie

With colleagues keen to facilitate greater student collaboration on group project work and enhance such 21st century skills that employers are increasing looking for, the imminent arrival of Microsoft 365 at Kent may just have the answer… Microsoft Teams.

MS Teams facilitates group collaboration and communication in a private social space (think Whatsapp on steroids) where previously students would have utilised the likes of Facebook Messenger and groups, Google Hangouts and, er Whatsapp. Don’t get me wrong these are still extremely useful resources and there will be students who actively use them to great effect but there may be those students who would prefer to keep their ‘work’ and ‘play’ environments separate.

Team players

Student collaboration was a big theme at BETT this year and I attended a presentation from Esam Baboukhan (City of Westminster College) which not only demonstrated the power of student collaboration using MS Teams to engage an historically hard to reach student demographic but also to promote a higher level of inclusivity as a profoundly deaf student was able to fully immerse themselves and interact and collaborate with their peers during teaching time and in doing project work.

Embedding skills for the digital work place

Gill Holden and Marc Bennett (Newcastle University) took a slightly different approach by highlighting their use of MS Teams to embed skills for the digital workplace in response to 70% of students regarding digital skills as important to their future careers, while only 42% felt that their course adequately prepared them in this regard.

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Making new friends

Again, like City of Westminster MS Teams was used by students to collaborate on projects and develop key project and time management skills in an inclusive and accessible environment etc. However, unlike City of Westminster, other opportunities for usage were also identified including amplifying the student voice through the creation of teams comprising student reps; promotion of staff and student collaboration; staff collaboration in the construction of programmes and modules; supervision of PhD students; and enhanced research collaboration with academic colleagues across the globe.

On the face of it then MS Teams has the potential to enhance the student experience by embedding skills that are increasingly in demand in a more digitally oriented workplace, while also making many key staff and research workflows more efficient and responsive in a continually challenging HE landscape. Therefore, we can’t wait to finally get our hands on it so we can start exploring!

This then concludes our coverage of BETT for another year. As usual I have come away with many ideas, an appetite to enhance existing practice and pedagogy and an eagerness to try out new technologies and new ways of working. There is much to do between now and BETT 2021 so best get to it!

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